News Digest — 12/21/23

Defense Minister Gallant Aboard Navy Ship: ‘Try to Attack Eilat, We will Know What To Do’

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant on Wednesday (20th) met with the Navy commanders and service-people operating in the vicinity of Eilat.

During the visit, the Minister was briefed on operational and intelligence activities as well as the Navy’s preparations in the face of aerial and naval threats in the Red Sea.  The visit was attended by Navy Commander VADM David Saar Salama.

Minister Gallant spoke with the men and women on board the Sa’ar 6-class corvette about the need to maintain readiness for actions in areas both near and far.

“The threat to freedom of navigation in the Straits of Bab al-Mandab, two thousand kilometers from the State of Israel, is not only a threat to traffic to Israel but also to international freedom of navigation in waters belonging to all countries,” Minister Gallant stated.

“I would like to thank my friend, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, whom I hosted in Israel a few days ago, for leading, on behalf of the United States, the multinational force tasked with ensuring freedom of navigation for all in the Strait of Bab al-Mandab,” he added.

The Defense Minister addressed the servicemen and women and said: “I have met the men and women in our Navy, the officers and commanders.  We will not tolerate threats against the State of Israel.  If they continue to provoke us,and try to attack Eilat with missiles or by other means, we will know what to do.  We are preparing – the troops here are ready for any mission and any command.  The State of Israel, through the Navy, and the Air Force, will know how to defend itself.”



Inside Hamas Leaders’ Subterranean City IDF Takes Control Of Hamas’ ‘Elite Quarter’

The IDF announced on Wednesday (20th) that its troops secured control over Hamas’ ‘Elite Quarter’ in the center of Gaza City, including the area of the Palestine Square, from where Hamas’ administrative military leadership operated.

The complex includes a large network of tunnels that connects terrorists’ hideouts, bureaus and residential apartments belonging to Hamas’ senior leadership.  This complex, both above and below ground, was a center of power for Hamas’ military and political wings.

In recent weeks the 401st Brigade in the 162nd Division along with forces from the Shaldag Unit,, Shayetet 13, and the Yahalom Unit have been operating in the area of Rimal in Gaza City, where Palestine Square is located.  The forces carried out a combined and coordinated offensive on ‘Palestine Square’ and took operational control over the area.  Over the last few days the area was completely secured.  During the battles to secure the area, IDF forces eliminated approximately 600 terrorists in both ground and aerial operations.

Palestine Square was a center of Hamas military rule and is surrounded by buildings that served as command and control centers, terror tunnel shafts, and strategic buildings belonging to the organization.  This military infrastructure was located in the direct vicinity of commercial stores, government buildings, civilian residences, and a designated school for deaf children.  The square is the center of the strategic tunnel network of some of Hamas leadership’s strongholds and connects to the underground infrastructure in the area of the Rantisi Hospital and the Shifa Hospital.

After securing the area, a “sweep and clear” operation revealed the underground terrorist city, which is part of Hamas’ tunnel system and includes a strategic tunnel route connected to other significant underground infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Tunnel shafts leading to the network of tunnels are located in the residences and offices of senior officials and allow for a covert descent through designated elevators and stairs.  This enabled Hamas operatives to both escape and remain in hideouts for extended periods.  The underground tunnel network includes blast doors and hideouts.  In some cases, food products, water, and electrical infrastructure were found that allowed for prolonged stays.  This network was used by the organization’s senior officials, Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar, Muhammad Deif, and others, to direct Hamas’ operational activity.  It was also used for protected daily movement through the heart of Gaza City.

In the vicinity of these buildings, Hamas established a specialized workshop for digging and building the underground network.  A tunnel shaft used for logistics and tunnel construction equipment, including tunnel walls and concrete arches that make up the tunnel ceilings, were found inside the workshop.  Next to the workshop is a shaft 20 meters deep, with descending spiral stairs, as well as a blast door and forks into the tunnel’s pathway.  The tunnel shaft, embedded by Hamas there, was demolished by explosives, and numerous weapons and technological devices were found nearby.  



Israel’s Tactics Are The Only Way To Crush Hamas – Col.Richard Kemp

Former UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, writing in the Telegraph on December 17, repeatedly misunderstands the situation in Gaza.  To accuse Israel of “a killing rage” and “indiscriminate” assaults is untrue and unfair to an army that surpasses all others in its ability to attack an enemy while doing everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.  Yes, many innocent civilians have been tragically killed.  But Hamas plans all of its operations with one overriding aim: to force Israel to kill civilians in Gaza.  That is an even higher priority for them than actually killing IDF soldiers and civilians.

In the civilian-to-combatant casualty ratio, Israel has a better track record than most other armies in the world.  If military operations that bring death, suffering and destruction on civilians is collective punishment, then that applies to virtually every war that has ever been fought.  Israel must be allowed to defend itself with whatever military force is necessary.  It simply has no other choice.

The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK’s national crisis management committee,COBRA. (Telegraph-UK)



The Third Front: How The Palestinian Authority Is Preparing For Battle – Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)

• Israel’s “third front” is in Judea and Samaria.  Declarations praising the Oct. 7 massacre by senior Fatah officials are an attempt to stir up feelings towards a similar horrendous act of violence against the Jewish communities there or in those adjacent to the ‘67 lines such as Kfar Saba or Rosh Ha’Ayin.  The scenario of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF) “turning their guns” on IDF forces and/or Jewish communities is rapidly developing into actuality.

• The warning signs are too numerous to ignore.  Dozens of terrorist attacks, attempted attacks, and shooting incidents at IDF forces or the civilian population in Judea and Samaria have been carried out since the beginning of 2023 by Palestinian policemen, members of the Preventive Security Forces, and members of other PASF units.

• In recent counter-terrorist activity by the IDF, dozens of Fatah men have been killed.  Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades took up arms again in 2021 and, prior to Oct. 7, asked its men, “What are you waiting for?  Now is the time to kill the Jews.”  Only a few months prior to Oct. 7, Fatah published a collage of 24 photos of “martyrs,” many of whom were members of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF) who were killed in clashes with Israel. 

• Only two weeks ago, Tawfik Tirawi, the former head of the PA General Intelligence Service, told Palestinian channel Al-Sharq that Fatah is involved in the fighting alongside Gaza, and that it has adopted terrorist groups in Nablus and Jenin, in which joint battalions of all the factions are operating together,

• Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, a former Deputy Chief of Staff and head of Israel’s National Security Council, recommends preparing for a scenario of the PA turning its guns against us.  He says, “There are tens of thousands of Palestinians who carry arms, and the potential of them carrying out a raid on some Jewish community exists at any given moment.”

• “We must base our preparations not in accordance with our enemies’ intentions but their capabilities, and since the scenario of the PA turning its guns against us is by no means far-fetched, and the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria have the capability, coupled with an orderly ideology of hostility and hatred toward us, then we really need to prepare in accordance with their capabilities, according to the potential danger.”

• In recent weeks, clips have been posted on social media showing exercises conducted by the 45,000 strong PASF, which appears to be training for an armed conflict or war.  On occasion, they resemble training carried out by the IDF’s crack units.  Other recent clips on social media show simulated raids on Israeli communities.



Friends OF The IDF Ship 150 Tons Of Emergency Winter Clothing, Gear To Soldiers

Friends of the IDF completed this week a five-week initiative to send 150 tons of essential winter clothing and gear to Israeli soldiers fighting on the front lines.

Dubbed the “Winter Clothing Operation,” the effort involved the purchase of 2,647,013 items and their delivery to Israel on two chartered 747s, along with cargo flights, and El Al flights carrying winter goods worth a total of $10,128,940.

Essential items sent included 200,136 warm hats, 47,556 neck gaiters, 184,093 gloves, 327,179 thermal pants, 320,928 thermal tops, 30,823 fleece blankets, 500,000 T-shirts, 479,994 long socks, 483,296 men’s underwear, 50,0010 women’s underwear, 10,000 sleeping bags, and 13,000 tactical gloves.

“Through our daily communication with the IDF,  we understand their greatest needs and recognize that these essentials can make all the difference for combat soldiers, who are making the most incredible sacrifices, during this war,” Steve Weil, chief executive officer of FIDF said.  “As the IDF’s sole designated partner in the US, FIDF prioritizes every single request, and we are grateful to our generous supporters who allowed us to fulfill this and every other IDF need.”



Members of Knesset And Former UN Amb. Welcomes Evangelical Chrisitians To Israel

Members of Israel’s Knesset and Israel’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon on Wednesday (20th), welcomed a delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders who are in Israel on a solidarity mission.

MK Danon traveled with the delegates to Kfar Aza on the southern border of Israel, where for many, they witnessed for the first time the devastation inflicted on Israel’s communities by Hamas with their own eyes.  The delegation also visited Sderot and was briefed on a minute-by-minute account of the morning of Black Saturday (Oct. 7) by the Mayor of Sderot and his security team.  Finally, they were able to speak to two of the hostage families whose loved ones remain in Gaza in captivity.

MK Danny Danon said: “I am grateful to all the Christian leaders and particularly to Gov. Huckabee and Joel Rosenberg for making time during the Christmas season to stand with Israel and the Jewish people against anti-Semitism and the forces of radical Islamism.  Visiting the communities on the Israel-Gaza border is an overwhelming experience, where the profound destruction is still a nightmarish reality.  The scent of death and the unmistakable presence of pure evil continue to leave an impact.  Israel is resolute in its commitment to eradicate the barbaric threat posed by Hamas terrorists, and the pursuit of this goal will never waver until they are entirely eliminated.”

Joel Rosenberg, editor-in-chief of All ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS, said: “In Israel’s darkest hour, I want every Israeli to know that Evangelical Christians love you because God loves you, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with you against the wicked Iranian regime and their barbaric terror proxy forces.  You are not alone.  Evangelicals are friends you can count on.  We will never leave you or forsake you.  I’m grateful to my friend Danny Danon, for hosting us today, briefing us, and taking us to meet Israeli heroes on the frontlines of this battle for civilization.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said: “I’ve been traveling to Israel for over 50 years – with my first trip being in July of 1973 – and I’ve led thousands of Americans on trips here since 1981.  I’ve been to Israel several times a year, most years and have come here during the intifada and the 2014 Gaza war to show my solidarity and support.  But this trip is perhaps my most important.  What happened on October 7th was revolting.  And I’m infuriated by how so much of the world and the media are turning against Israel.  I came here to say loud and clear that Evangelicals stand with Israel.  We believe in the Bible, and we are grateful that God made it crystal clear that He loves Israel and the Jewish people and has chosen to bless them.  That’s why Evangelicals are praying without ceasing for Israel’s hostages to come home quickly and for victory over Israel’s enemies and why so many Christians are donating millions of dollars to provide urgently needed humanitarian relief for those suffering in this tragic war.