News Digest — 12/8/23

IDF Spokesman: Hanukkah Symbolizes The Bravery And Victory Of Our People

IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari spoke about the IDF’s progress in the war against Hamas on the two-month anniversary of the Hamas massacre which sparked the war and the first night of Hanukkah.

“Tonight, (Thursday, 7th) we mark two months since the beginning of the war, and light the first candle of Hanukkah.  The first candle was lit by IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip and along all the state’s borders.  The days of Hanukkah symbolize the bravery and victory  of our people,” Admiral Hagari said.

“The days that have passed shed more and more light on the courage of our citizens, active duty IDF officers, reserve IDF soldiers, and security forces personnel.  Men and women from all parts of Israeli society, each in his own way.”

He said that “hostages who have experienced and are experiencing hell,  fought against the terrorists who abducted them and are showing immense mental strength…as are citizens and soldiers who charged at terrorists to save lives…reserve soldiers who left everything; family, work, studies, and stood ready to defend the homeland.”

Our soldiers, who are now fighting, do so bravely and courageously, led by their commanders,” he said.

Addressing the casualties the IDF has suffered in Gaza, he said: “We have lost some of the best in this fight, the cost of war is heavy.  Each and every one of them is a hero of the State of Israel.  They paid with their lives for our safety here.  A little of their light repels much of the darkness.”

“Even now, IDF forces are intensifying the fight against Hamas’ strongholds in the southern and northern parts of the Gaza Strip.  We are in the midst of a stubborn war along the entire Strip.  We are advancing in stages of the combat, killing terrorists, including senior commanders hiding in underground tunnels, and are also destroying terror infrastructure.  The IDF and the ISA have arrested and questioned hundreds of terror suspects.  Many of them, even in the past day, are surrendering themselves to us.  The intelligence we gather from the questioning aids us in the continued fight.  We are determined to dismantle Hamas, but the way is still long.”

“Today, I returned here after joining the Commanding Officer of the 98th Division in Khan Yunis.  We entered the area together, he briefed one of the brigade commanders.  I saw determined reservists, I saw them fighting, I saw them clearing the area, killing terrorists, searching for tunnels where the terrorists hide like cowards, waiting for them to come out to kill them.  They are destroying the tunnels, clearing the area, and of course are searching for any lead on the hostages.”

Addressing the continued attacks from Lebanon which resulted in the killing of an Israeli farmer by a Hezbollah-fired anti-tank missile Thursday afternoon (7th), Hagari said: “In the north, today we struck, using fighter jets, various terror targets, including terror infrastructure and an operational command center of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, and killed its terrorists.  The strike was in response to the firing of an anti-tank missile from Lebanese territory toward the State of Israel, which resulted in the death of an Israeli civilian.  We share in the family’s sorrow.  We are very highly prepared in the north and will respond severely to any terrorist attack against Israel.”

“It is the first candle of Hanukkah, our hearts and thoughts are with the 138 hostages still held in Gaza.  Together, with them, all the fallen soldiers, in their bravery and spirit, illuminate for us the goal for which we are fighting – to bring the hostages back home and ensure the safety of the State of Israel.”



Gal Eisenkot Son Of Former IDF Chief Of Staff Fell In Battle In Gaza

The IDF cleared for publication Thursday (7th) that the son of former IDF Chief of Staff, Minister Gadi Eisenkot, Gal Meir Eisenkot, 25, from Herzliya, a soldier from the 699th Battalion, fell in battle in northern Gaza.

In addition, the IDF announced that Sergeant Major (Res.) Jonathan David Deitch, 34, from Harish, a soldier in Patrol Battalion 6623 of the 55th Brigade, fell in southern Lebanon.

In addition, two reservists, a soldier and a paramedic, in the 53rd Battalion of the Barak Brigade, were severely wounded as well.  The wounded soldiers were evacuated to hospitals, and their families were informed.

National Unity Chairman Minister Benny Gantz lamented the loss of his party member’s son, saying,  “While touring the headquarters of the 162nd Division, we received bad news, Gal, the son of my friend Gadi Eisenkot, fell in battle.  Gal did not hesitate and reported for reserve duty for the nation which he was educated to love and which he loved with every fiber of his soul.”

He added: “Together with the rest of the people of Israel, I send support to Gadi and his family, and a big hug.  We are all committed to continue fighting for the holy objective for which Gal fell.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog eulogized: Michal and I lament, mourn, and are pained with the mourning of Gadi and Chana Eisenkot on the death of their son Gal in battle in the Gaza Strip.  Gadi told me more than once about Gal, who was the landscape of his family – he was moral, strived for excellence and loved everyone.  Gadi gave his entire life for Israel’s security, the IDF, and the state, and today he and his family paid an unbearable price.”



Images Circulate Of Dozens Of Hamas Terrorists Surrendering In Gaza

Images and videos of Hamas terrorists who have surrendered and been arrested by the IDF have been circulating online, Israel media reported on Thursday (7th).

The reports came as the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah began in Israel.

A video revealing dozens of apprehended individuals stripped down to their undergarments as they sit in rows on the street exploded on platforms such as X, and Instagram.

It is unclear where in Gaza these images were captured, but armed IDF soldiers are pictured next to the detainees as they wait, heads down, on rubble-strewn pavement in front of damaged buildings.

“Thank You Hashem for letting the Jewish people start Hanukkah with a smile thanks to this mass surrender of Hamas terrorists in Gaza,” wrote Jewish activist Hillel Fuld on X.  “This should be the first of many!  Thank you IDF.”

Captioning a photo on X of the detainees kneeling in a row on a sidewalk as their shoes litter the street in front of them, former director of speech writing at the Israel Mission to the United Nations and co-founder of Boundless Israel, Aviva Klompas described it as a “Mass surrender of Hamas terrorists.”

Another image published by the Israeli media outlet, Maariv shows the detainees crowded together in the back of an IDF military vehicle, again undressed, with their hands apparently secured behind their backs.



Netanyahu Threatens To Turn ‘Beirut Into Gaza’ After Israeli Murdered In Hezbollah Attack

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah not to escalate a simmering conflict with Israel, hinting that the IDF could respond with a ground invasion of southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah has fired dozens of rockets and missiles into Israeli territory since the outbreak of hostilities between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization – another Iranian proxy – on October 7th.

Israel has also foiled a number of terrorist infiltration attempts over the Lebanon-Israel border.

On Thursday (7th), a 60-year-old Israeli farmer was killed when Hezbollah terrorists fired an anti-tank missile from southern Lebanon into the town of Mattat in northern Israel.  The missile struck a car killing the driver.

In response, Israeli artillery pounded Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.

Speaking at the IDF Northern Command’s headquarters Thursday (7th), Netanyahu warned Hezbollah not to push the conflict into a full-blown war, hinting at a possible ground invasion of southern Lebanon.

“If Hezbollah decides to open an all-out war, then with its own hands it will turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, which are not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Yunis,” Netanyahu said while meeting with IDF reservists at an artillery battery in the upper Galilee, near the Lebanese border.

Netanyahu said, “This evening we light Hanukkah candles.  In times of conflict, this candle shines light also out of grief for our heroic sons and daughters who have fallen, and for our hostages whom we have not yet returned but whom we will return, for the wounded who are suffering and for the civilians who have also fallen in heroic battles.”



How The IDF Is Reducing Civilian Casualties In Gaza – Yaakov Lappin

The Israel Defense Forces is making great efforts to limit civilian casualties in its war against Hamas, despite the terror group’s core strategy of embedding itself in the heart of civilian areas and sites.

A sophisticated control center at the IDF Southern Command monitors and evaluates the situation in Gaza in real time.  The system divides Gaza into 623 blocks, each featuring detailed data on civilian presence, in a continuously updating smart map.  The information is made available to air, ground and naval units, and can have a decisive influence on IDF actions.

This information is crucial for analyzing the evacuation of Gazan civilians and understanding the distribution of the civilian population.  The control center primarily serves a humanitarian purpose, and enables IDF commanders to evaluate how “clear” of civilians a given sector is before launching any kind of strike or maneuver.

A senior IDF official said, “The IDF puts a lot of effort in…to make sure that civilians won’t be on the battlefield.  Unfortunately, we are facing an enemy whose core strategy is to do exactly the opposite.”

The military has demonstrated a commitment to addressing the immediate humanitarian needs arising from the conflict, facilitating the construction of new pipelines to ensure water access in areas like Khan Yunis and Dir Al-Balah.  The IDF has also coordinated the entrance of two field hospitals and the evacuation of injured civilians to these facilities.

All of these efforts reflect a concerted attempt to balance the military imperative of dismantling Hamas’ army in Gaza against the need to minimize collateral damage as much as possible.



Silence The Diplomatic Clock For Israel – Dave Dromi

For many years, a figurative diplomatic clock was set for Israel every time it launched a defensive military operation.  This clock is not brought out for any other conflict in the world.  It only exists in the imagination of Israel’s foreign interlocutors.

But the diplomatic clock is a fraud.  There can be no specific time limitations on responding to the murder, rape and butchery of 1,200 people, the wounding of thousands of others, and the vicious kidnapping and humiliation of 240 Israelis and foreigners.  There is no precedent for such crimes.  Thus, there can be no time limit set on how long it takes for Israel to ensure that it never happens again.  

Israel’s wars are not fought halfway around the world.  They are fought on our borders, mere meters from our homes, towns and cities.  The war launched against Israel on Oct. 7 broke something that needs fixing, regardless of how long it takes.  My expectation is that Israel will ignore those who demand that Israel speed up the war, because speeding up means many more Israeli soldiers will be killed.

The only clock that matters is the one that stops when Israel achieves victory.  Not a minute before.  Israel governs the clock; it is not governed by the clock.



Nearly 40% Of U.S. Ultra-Orthodox Jews Considering Aliyah Amid Rising Anti-Semitism

Amid escalating anti-Semitism, nearly 40% of the ultra-Orthodox Jews in the United States considered Aliyah to Israel as revealed by a survey conducted by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO).

The survey, published on Thursday (7th), also showed that the general Orthodox Jewish community shared similar sentiments, with 35% contemplating Aliyah.  Their proactive stance  against anti-Semitism was further highlighted by 26% considering joining a defense league, and 31% exercising more caution in displaying Jewish symbols.

In the Conservative Jewish segment, 16% considered Aliyah, indicating concerns about safety and identity transcended denominational lines.  Additionally 21% were open to joining a defense league, and 27% were more careful about publicly displaying Jewish symbols.

The response among Reform Jews underscored the pervasive nature of these concerns.  While 11% considered Aliyah, a significant 25% were willing to join a defense league, and an even larger 41% exercised increased caution about wearing Jewish symbols, reflecting an acute awareness of their surroundings.

Jews with no specific stream affiliation were not insulated from these concerns, with 22% contemplating Aliyah and 23% willing to join a defense league.  A noticeable 31% of this group were more mindful of their public display of Jewish identity.

Another key finding is the decrease in the sense of personal threat among US Jews, despite initial heightened fears.  However, the concern for safety has prompted notable changes in behavior, with a third of the respondents being more cautious about wearing Jewish symbols, indicating a pervasive sense of vulnerability.

The survey further revealed that political orientation greatly influences Jews on Israel’s actions in Gaza.  A substantial number of very liberal Jews perceive Israel as too aggressive, contrasting with the opinion among Conservative Jews, who tend to believe Israel’s response is not aggressive enough.

Involving 580 US Jews, the survey revealed a nuanced and multifaceted picture of a community deeply connected to and impacted by the events in Israel.