News Digest — 2/15/24

Defense Minister: Israel Won’t Tolerate Attacks On Its Citizens

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday night (14th) spoke with US counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Minister Gallant briefed the Secretary of IDF activities and operational achievements, including the successful operation conducted this week to release two hostages held in Gaza.  In this regard, Minister Gallant emphasized the importance of ongoing military pressure and additional efforts to ensure the release of hostages.

Gallant also expressed his appreciation to the US administration for their leadership and commitment to ensure the return of the hostages.

He then discussed ongoing threats and attacks conducted by Hezbollah in Lebanon, which have resulted in Israeli casualties and the injury of civilians, stressing that, “The State of Israel will not tolerate attacks on its citizens.”

Gallant also reiterated his commitment to ensuring security on the northern border and the safe return of displaced citizens – whether it be through diplomatic channels or military action.

Concluding the discussion, the Defense Minister expressed his appreciation for Secretary Austin’s leadership and steadfast partnership.



Israeli Delegation Won’t Return To Cairo

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided not to send back to Cairo the Israeli delegation that had participated in the recent negotiations on a potential new hostage deal.

Netanyahu said, “This week we freed two of our hostages in a careful military operation.  So far we have freed 112 of our hostages with a combination of strong military pressure and firm negotiations.  This is also the key to the release of the rest of our hostages: strong military pressure and very firm negotiations.

“I insist that Hamas drop their delusional demands – and when they drop these demands we can move forward,” he added.

Earlier, the Prime Minister’s office stated, “In Cairo, Israel was not given any new proposal by Hamas for the release of our hostages.  Prime Minister Netanyahu insists that Israel will not give in to the delusional demands of Hamas.  A change in Hamas’ positions will allow progress in negotiations.”

Kan News reported that the decision not to send a team to Cairo was made without consultation with the members of the War Cabinet, Ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot.

Earlier, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas sent a special request to Hamas through the Arabic Wafa news site, urging them to agree to a prisoner swap with Israel.

Abbas called on Hamas to quickly reach a prisoner swap agreement, in order to “prevent deportation” and suffering for the Palestinian nation, and in order to distance IDF forces from Rafah.

Turning to all those involved in the negotiations, Abbas urged that “all sides take responsibility for the failure to reach a deal up till now.”



‘Hamas Is Hitler’s Successor:’ Hostages’ Families Head To The Hague To File Complaints

A delegation of family members of Israeli hostages being held captive by Hamas in Gaza set off Wednesday morning (14th) from Ben Gurion Airport to The Hague in the Netherlands, where they will file complaints of war crimes against Hamas leaders at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Speaking at the airport before takeoff, Ofri Bibas, the sister of Yarden Bibas who was abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz with his wife and two young children on October 7, said Hamas was the successor of the Nazis and that the terror group must be brought to account for its crimes.

“All of humanity must stand firm in the face of a global terrorist army, in which Hamas is one battalion operating in its service,” said Bibas.

“The human monsters who harmed us and the members of our family, are the successors of Hitler, Eichmann, and Goebbels, people who have already been brought to account,” she added.  “The time has now come to do this again.  This is not just our story.  If we don’t stop this, tomorrow it will be the story of the entire world.”

Yarden Bibas’ wife Shiri, 32, and their two boys, Ariel, 4 and Kfir, who was just nine months old when he was abducted from his home, became symbols for the suffering of the hostages due to their young age and video footage of Shiri shielding her two sons from Hamas terrorists surrounding her after they were kidnapped.

Some 100 representatives of the families of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza flew out in the delegation, along with several dozen lawyers who helped draft the legal submission to the ICC, which is empowered to prosecute individuals for serious violations of the Geneva Conventions that amount to war crimes if they are citizens of signatory states and entities, as the Palestinian Authority is.

Israel has not ratified the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, and therefore sees itself as not subject to the court’s jurisdiction.

It is believed that 130 hostages abducted by Hamas during its brutal October 7 assault, remain in Gaza – not all of them alive – after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that.  Three hostages have been rescued by troops, including two this week, and the bodies of 11 hostages have been recovered.

The delegation of the hostage families forum will present its legal submission to the ICC, which includes 1,000 pages of eyewitness testimony and evidence of the crimes committed by Hamas terrorists on October 7.

 The complaint being filed by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum along with the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, includes charges of “kidnapping, crimes of sexual violence, torture and other serious allegations,” against the terror group.

Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Karim Khan has already said he has opened an investigation into alleged Hamas war crimes, but it is hoped that the submission by the hostages’ families will further spur him to advance the investigation and issue arrest warrants against senior Hamas leaders.

Ziv Abud, whose friend Eliya Cohen was abducted from the Supernova music festival during the October 7 attack, and who herself fled from Hamas terrorists as they were massacring festival-goers, said she was traveling to The Hague to give eyewitness testimony of the atrocities she witnessed.

Abud hid in a bomb shelter after fleeing the festival along with Cohen and her nephew – Cohen was abducted and her nephew was murdered.

“I, who experienced horrors, lost those dear to me, and my friend is still in a Hamas cellar.  I expect that this complaint, and after it, the charges, will bring individual justice for each and everyone of the families of the abducted, of the bereaved families, of the wounded in heart and soul,  as well as global justice and an unequivocal understanding that we are dealing with a sadistic and cruel terror organization,” said Abud before boarding the flight to the Netherlands. 



Iran Simulates Destruction Of Israel’s Air Force Palmachim Air Base

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched a simulation of destroying Israel’s Palmachim Air Base on Monday (12th), Iranian state media Tasnim reported.

The IRGC celebrated “Guards Day,” the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution 45 years ago, by targeting ballistic missiles at a simulated version of an Israel Air Force base.

The simulation was part of a celebration of Guard’s day, including launching missiles from submarines and boats in a naval showcase.  The replica model of the airbase was built in the Iranian desert, MEMRI reported.

New missiles, the Emad and Qadr, were announced on the occasion of the national holiday.  The new missiles allegedly have increased accuracy and range, according to Iranian state media.

Iranian media claims the Palmachim Air Base was selected as it “is the main location of the F-35 fighter jets of the Zionist regime.”  Palmachim is a critical base in Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza.

Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced from the Palmachim base that Israel would not hesitate to attack Iran, in a clear message to the nation responsible for funding all proxies launching attacks on Israel, and sending agents to assassinate Israelis and Jews worldwide.

The IRGC reportedly used measurements of the area of the air base to build their targets and size the new missiles.

MEMRI cited local reports that “this is an illustration of what the IRGC can do […] if Iran’s territory is attacked.”

State media reported that the Emad liquid fuel missiles have a range of 1,700 km. (1056.3 miles).  IRGC commander-in-chief Hossein Salami boasted alleged success in launching long-range ballistic missiles from a warship for the first time.

“This new achievement increases the range of our naval influence and power to any desired location, because our ocean -traversing-warships can be at any point in the oceans,” he said.  “There will be no safe place for any power that wants to create insecurity for us.”



Jewish Man Stabbed 6 Times In Paris Anti-Semitic Attack

A man was arrested by French police in Paris after having stabbed a Jewish man in the French capital earlier this week.

The 35-year-old victim was stabbed by a knife-wielding man while he was walking with his friend in the 14th arrondissement.

The attacker reportedly voiced anti-Semitic slander after which he stabbed the victim six times in the back.

The assailant subsequently fled the crime scene only to be arrested at his home by the police, according to the French news outlet Le Parisien.

The victim was taken to the hospital for emergency medical care.

The public prosecutor’s office in Paris opened “an investigation into the offense of attempted murder on grounds of religion,” the paper further stated.

According to the French outlet the attacker, who is also 35 years old, and the victim had been childhood acquaintances and had recently renewed contact.

However, of late, the assailant had been targeting the victim with anti-Semitic slander and threatening him in what the victim understood as an obsession over Jews.  This had prompted the victim to file a complaint against him to police.

A recent report published by the Diaspora Ministry, the World Zionist Organization, and the Jewish Agency shows a 1000%  surge in anti-Semitic incidents in France since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.

In addition, out of the 46% of violent anti-Semitic incidents that occurred worldwide, 9% took place in France.



The U.S. Wants To See Israel Defeat Hamas

State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Tuesday (13th): “We continue to support Israel’s right to ensure that the October 7 attacks cannot be repeated.  We want to see them have the ability to go after Hamas, to defeat Hamas.  We know that Hamas wants to continue to target Israel.”

“Hamas has been very clear about what their goals are, and they have not changed since October 7th.  They want to continue to launch terror attacks.  They are committed to the full-scale destruction of Israel, and we want to see Israel be able to answer that.  We want to see Israel be able to answer the attacks from Hezbollah in the north.  We want to see Israel be able to deter attacks from Iran and malign activities from Iran, which continues to fund other proxies that are hostile to the State of israel.”  (U.S. State Department)



Israel Cannot Depend On International “Security Assurances” Over A Palestinian State – Clifford D. May

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, mastermind behind the October 7 invasion of Israel,was surely encouraged to learn that President Biden last week said that Israel’s “conduct of the response in Gaza has been over the top.”  That charge is entirely unfounded.  In truth, despite Hamas’ human shields strategy, the ratio of civilian-to-combatant casualties is unprecedentedly low for urban warfare.  Israelis have done more than any other nation ever to spare civilians.  The battle against Hamas is not one the Israelis can afford to lose or even end in stalemate.

Last week, Secretary of State Blinken called for “a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path” to a Palestinian state.  Note that Mr. Blinken is not saying that the leaders of such a state would forswear terrorism and peacefully coexist alongside the Jewish state.  Nor is he guaranteeing that such a state will not become a vassal of Tehran.

All he said is that Israelis will have “security assurances.”  Like the security assurances Israelis received  from the UN Security Council after they withdrew  from Lebanon?  Like the security assurances Ukrainians received from the U.S. when they gave up their nuclear weapons.?

Sinwar is not fighting for a Palestinian state.  He is fighting for the extermination of the Jewish state and its replacement – “from the river to the sea” – by an Islamic emirate, a jewel in the crown  of the caliphate that is to come.  For Sinwar, a “two-state solution” would solve nothing – unless it provided an improved platform from which to launch Oct.7-style attacks.

The writer is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) (Washington Times)