News Digest — 12/4/23

Shin Bet Head Says Israel Will Hunt Down Hamas Anywhere In The World

In recordings released Sunday (3rd) by Israel’s public broadcaster KAN, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar is heard saying, “The war cabinet gave as an objective, eliminate Hamas, and we are determined to do so.  This is our “Munich,” referring to the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The Shin Bet head said it will be done anywhere needed, “in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar.  It will take a few years, but we will be there to do it.  Security responsibility is ours.  Our duty is to provide both security and a sense of security.  Unfortunately on October 7, we did not succeed in doing that.  I think that we are on an upward trajectory.”

Concerning ongoing operations, Bar said, “We are not waiting. We are already learning our lessons from the events, already transferring them to other sectors, not just in the Gaza Strip, of course. The scope of threats facing the State of Israel has been unprecedented in the past year, even before these events.  Even in this case, the main issues are hidden from view.  Many things are happening beneath the surface.

Senior Hamas leadership members reside in four key locations outside Gaza and the West Bank: Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar, and Iran.

Ismail Haniyeh, 61, the movement’s chairman and head of Hamas’ political bureau, travels between Istanbul and Doha.  Khaled Maashal, 58, in charge of Hamas’ international activities, is also shuttling between Istanbul and Doha.

Salah al-Arouri, 57, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau and responsible for the movement’s military activities in the West Bank, is based in Beirut, Lebanon.

Musa Abu Marzook, 72, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau moves between Damascus and Cairo.

Khalil al-Haya, 63, head of Hamas’ media office and Yahya Sinwar’s deputy, resides in Qatar as does Razi Hamad, 59, another member of Hamas’ political bureau, along with 10 other senior figures.



IDF Eliminates Hamas’ Shati Battalion Commander In Gaza

Haytham Al-Hawajri, the commander of Hamas’ Shati Battalion who led the terror organization’s operations in the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, was killed in an Israeli airstrike, IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announced on Sunday (3rd).

Hagari added more information about the IDF’s operation in Gaza saying: “The IDF is expanding its ground operations against Hamas’ central command centers throughout the Strip.  Forces engage terrorists face-to-face, and eliminate them.  The Israeli Air Force, IDF Southern Command, intelligence corps, and Shin Bet work around the clock to counter threats such as terrorist tunnels and rocket launching pads, alongside the ground operation in an effort to increase safety to our forces.”

Earlier on Thursday (11/30), IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said that “the operation in the southern Gaza Strip will be no less intense than that in the northern part of the Strip,” confirming that preparations had begun for a military operation in southern Gaza.



Missile Launched  By Hezbollah In Lebanon Wounded 12 Israelis Sunday

Ziv Medical Center in Safed admitted 12 people injured by an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon on Sunday (3rd).

One woman and 11 men between the ages of 20 and 65 were lightly wounded from shrapnel and the missile’s blast, the hospital said.

Several soldiers were injured by fragments and a vehicle was damaged in the attack, the IDF said earlier.  It was unclear whether the other hospitalized victims were soldiers or civilians.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack on the army vehicle that was targeted in the area of Moshav Beit Hillel in Eastern Galilee.

In addition the IDF detected several launches in the Mount Dov area, some of which struck inside Lebanese territory.

Israeli Defense Forces targeted the sources of the fire.

The IDF updated its reports in the late afternoon that fighter jets attacked Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and that several launches were detected from Lebanon toward Israeli territory, with IDF artillery attacking the fire sources.

The IDF shelled several targets in southern Lebanon earlier on Sunday (3rd) in response to anti-tank missile fire.

Israel has responded to multiple daily attacks from Hezbollah terrorists throughout the war against Hamas in Gaza, but the northern border was mostly quiet, during the week-long ceasefire that ended on Friday (1st).



Netanyahu: Palestinian Authority Can’t Return To Gaza; This Isn’t Oslo II

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged not to repeat the mistakes made under the Oslo Accords by allowing the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza after its military campaign to oust Hamas from that enclave is over.

“One thing for sure I am not doing.  I am not ready to delude myself to say that the defective act that took place under Oslo through a terrible error, must now take place a second time with the return of a hostile enemy to Gaza and the West Bank,” he told reporters on Saturday night (2nd).

Netanyahu referenced the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s initial exit to Tunisia.  He noted that this was a correct decision, adding that the error that had been made was to allow it to return in 1994 through the Palestinian Authority under the auspices of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

“I won’t repeat this mistake and return this body to Gaza, because the same thing will happen,” he said.  He referenced the 2007 coup when Hamas ousted the PA’s Fatah party from Gaza and forcibly seized control of the enclave.

“The Palestinian leadership has split into two,” Netanyahu said, “but the ideology that denies Israel’s right to exist is common to both those who rule in the West Bank and in Gaza.”

“Instead of seeing  the kind of government reform that took place in Germany and Japan after their defeat in World War II, the opposite will occur if we return the same entity –  that has not undergone any reform or transformation – in Gaza,” Netanyahu said.

“I think differently.  We have to build something different once the war is over,” he said.  He emphasized that Israel must have general control over the territory, including security, but that “the internal governance would be Palestinian.”  He clarified that this referenced a newly created government entity and not the PA.

“The PA doesn’t fight terror, it supports it.  It doesn’t educate for peace, it educates for the destruction of Israel.  This isn’t the entity that needs to enter there,” he said.

On Saturday night (2nd) in Ramallah PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said that Gaza was “an integral part of the Palestinian state and that  any political solution must include that enclave as well as the West Bank and east Jerusalem.  

According to his statement posed on the Palestinian news agency, WAFA, the only solution to the bloodshed, he told PA leaders, is recognition of a Palestinian state on that territory, including UN membership.

“We continue with our people to remain steadfast in the battle for survival, freedom, and independence.  We will not kneel.  We will not surrender to the ‘fait accompli.’  We will not allow the Nakba of Palestine in 1948 to be repeated, whatever the circumstances, and no matter how costly the sacrifice.” 



ICC Chief Prosecutor: ‘Oct. 7 Attacks Were Some Of The Most Serious International Crimes’

Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Karim Khan visited Israel over the weekend.  During the visit, the Prosecutor, who was hosted by the Families Headquarters, toured Be’eri, Kfar Aza, and the Re’im party site.  The Prosecutor also visited the Families Headquarters and met with family representatives.

The families of the hostages demanded from Khan: “We expect you to work to bring Hamas terrorists to justice for crimes against humanity and genocide.”

The purpose of the visit was to directly expose the Prosecutor to the horrors committed by Hamas on October 7 and urge him to conduct an uncompromising investigation to prosecute the murderers, their collaborators, and their assistants.  During his visit to the Gaza envelope and the Re’im party site, the Prosecutor was exposed to the horrors, and after meeting with a representative of ZAKA (Disaster Victim Identification), he watched videos and photos documenting the massacre.

“In KIbbutz Be’eri, Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and at the site of the Nova Music Festival in Re’im, I witnessed scenes of deliberate cruelty.  The attacks against innocent Israeli civilians on October 7th represent some of the most serious international crimes, crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, crimes that the ICC was established to address.  Meeting with the families of the victims of these attacks, my message was clear: we stand ready to work with them as part of our ongoing work to ensure accountability for those responsible,” Khan stated following his visit.

“I called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken by Hamas and other terrorist organizations.  There can be no justification for holding hostages, especially not the blatant violation of the fundamental principles of humanity by taking children and continuing to hold them.  Hostages cannot be treated as human shields or bargaining chips,” he added. 

During the visit to Israel, the Families Headquarters emphasized that the expectation is to bring Hamas to justice for the atrocities they committed and that there is real obligation to immediately open an investigation against those who took part in the cruelty and violent massacre on Black Saturday (Oct. 7). 

On behalf of the Families Headquarters, it was stated: “We thank Mr. Karim Khan for the extraordinary decision to come and stand by the families in the aftermath of the horrors perpetrated by Hamas in Israel on October 7 and the continued detention of hostages.  We expect him to work to bring Hamas terrorists to justice for crimes against humanity and genocide. This is part of a broader international legal battle led by the Families Headquarters under the leadership of attorney Yuval Sasson together with Dr. Shelly Aviv-Yeini and attorneys Raz Nazari and Dan Eldad to prosecute Hamas criminals and their collaborators.



UN Teachers In Gaza Glorify Hamas Massacres – Ariel Kahana

At least 20 teachers from United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) schools have praised and glorified the attacks carried out by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, according to the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se).

Former Knesset member Einat Wilf said, “The findings of this report once again prove that UNRWA is committed absolutely to the Palestinian ‘Right of Return‘ agenda, which denies the right of the Jewish people to have a state anywhere between the river and the sea.  On Oct. 7, we saw what it looks like when trained murderers implement the ideology with which they were educated all their lives.  If we want a different future, a radical change in Israel’s attitude towards the organization is necessary this time.” 

“There will be no change, neither in Gaza, nor in the West Bank, nor in eastern Jerusalem, as long as UNRWA continues to provide international legitimacy to the permanent refugee idea and the Palestinian ‘Right of Return.’  Israel needs to declare the end of its voluntary cooperation with UNRWA and remove the organization from any place where it operates.  Only then can one imagine a life other than perpetual warfare.”



A Thai Farm Worker In An Israeli Hospital – Hillel Kuttler

Wanchai Monsana, 44, was transferred on Oct. 10 to Sheba Medical Center with severe burns.  His co-workers from Thailand were either murdered by Hamas or kidnapped.  Monsana doesn’t speak Hebrew or English.  An Israeli woman whose son was also in that hospital saw the Thai man, with no visitors, and sent a WhatsApp message about him.  Someone else’s Facebook post followed, and soon Israelis came by to see him.

So many Israelis have come, sometimes taking along their Thai workers, that a sign on his door requested that he be left alone between noon and 3 pm to rest.  His first visitors brought him two phones and a wallet with money.  Thai restaurants in Tel Aviv have delivered meals.

Israeli health insurance will cover Monsana’s medical bills.  Israel’s National Insurance Institute and Thai agencies will compensate for his being out of work, said Pimchanok Jirapattanakul, a consul at Thailand’s Embassy.  He added that Israelis have shown much compassion and extended assistance to Thai workers who were affected.

Prior to Oct. 7, 30,000 Thais worked in Israel.  About 21,000 Thai agricultural workers remain in Israel at this time.