News Digest — 2/16/24

Netanyahu: We Reject International Dictates On Palestinian State

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Commented on Thursday night (15th) on reports that the US administration, along with several Arab countries, are advancing a plan to establish a Palestinian state.

“At the Cabinet meeting, I clarified my position regarding the recent talks of imposing a Palestinian state on Israel,” Netanyahu said.

My position is summed up in the following two sentences:”

“1.  Israel rejects outright international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians.  Such a settlement will only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions,” he added.

  1. Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.  Such recognition following the October 7 massacre would give a huge unprecedented reward to terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.,” he said..

Netanyahu’s comments followed a report in The Washington Post which said that the Biden administration, together with several Arab countries, is quickly advancing a plan for a timetable to create a Palestinian state the day after the war in Gaza ends.

According to the plan, which the Post called a “comprehensive plan for long-term peace between Israel and Palestinians,” the timeline for the establishment of “Palestine” could be announced within the next several weeks.

The plan is being advanced quickly due to the proposed temporary cessation of fire suggested in the prisoner swap deals placed on the negotiating table.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said in response to the report that “We will not agree in any way to this plan, which in fact says that the Palestinians deserve a reward for the terrible massacre they did to us: A Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.  The message is that it pays very well to massacre the citizens of Israel.  A Palestinian state is an existential threat to the State of Israel, as was proven on October 7.  Kfar Saba will not be Kfar Aza.”

“At the meeting of the Political-Security Cabinet, I will demand a clear and unequivocal decision stating that Israel opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state and the imposition of sanctions on over half a million residents of Judea and Samaria.  I expect clear support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Gadi Eisenkot, and all the ministers,” Smotrich added.



IDF Kills Senior Hezbollah Commander ‘But It’s One Step Out Of 10’ Gallant Says

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met Thursday (15th) with the Emergency Preparedness Committee, which held a Home Front exercise for a war scenario  in the north.  “It’s one step out of 10” against Hezbollah, Gallant said.  “The IDF still has a strong and significant force.  The Air Force jets that are now flying above Lebanon have more massive bombs for more distant targets.”  The IDF confirmed it eliminated, on Thursday (15th), a senior commander of Hezbollah’s Radwan Force, his deputy and another member of the terror organization.

“We are here after an intense day in the north.  Hezbollah has moved up half a click – but it’s one step out of 10.  We can attack not just 20 km. (12 miles) but even at 50 km (31 miles), in Beirut and anywhere else, the IDF is a very strong and significant force,” Gallant added.  “We will work to return the northern residents to their homes and create the appropriate security conditions for them.  This should be clear to both our enemies and our allies, the State of Israel, the security establishment and the IDF have proven in recent months, when we say it, we mean it.”

“We have no interest in war, but we must prepare,” Gallant warned.  “The planes that are currently flying over Lebanon have targets and they know how to change the attack locations as necessary.  In the event of a war, the toll for the State of Israel will be substantial but will be catastrophic for Lebanon and Hezbollah.  We should use the old Roman proverb that says: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

The Emergency Preparedness Committee held a Home Front Preparedness exercise Thursday (15th) for a war scenario in the northern arena, which included the possibility of challenges in supplying power, transporting food and evacuating complex patients from their homes to hospitals.  During the discussion, Gallant said he intends to hold a series of exercises to promote civilian readiness for a war scenario in the north requesting to establish a defense system for Israel’s strategic assets.

“The war in Gaza is progressing in a very impressive way, the military plan is working and we control the north of the Gaza Strip, we mostly control Khan Younis above and below the ground, and we will continue our operations in the Rafah area and other places, “ Gallant said.

“At the end of the day, Hamas as a military and political organization will not exist in the Gaza Strip,” Gallant added.  “This is a government decision, and the security establishment will fully implement it.  It will take a long time, but at the end of the day this process will end, for the simple reason that we cannot keep living in a reality where our women and children are kidnapped, and we live as if nothing happened.”



Senior Security Commentator:  Don’t Believe Hamas’ Shows, It Is Collapsing

Senior Channel 13 News commentator Alon Ben-David stated that people should not believe the shows of confidence put on by the Hamas terrorist organization, as Hamas is on the verge of collapse and its members are running scared.

In a column for Maariv Friday morning (16th), Ben-David explained that “out of the 24 battalions of Hamas only 6 battalions remain that function, and Hamas also knows that the IDF is within decisive distance of disbanding them as well.  Under siege, the remaining commanders are trying to manufacture a semblance of control in the area.”

According to Ben-David, the IDF has been encountering “exhausted terrorists who come out of tunnels and surrender all over the Strip.  They say they ran out of air and water and they haven’t heard from their commanders in weeks. This is what the beginning of the collapse of a military organization looks like,”

Ben-David concluded, “If in the first two months of the war, Hamas controlled and managed the distribution of aid, in the third month it was already forced to fight and use force against the hungry masses, and in recent weeks Hamas members have been storming the trucks along with the masses in hope of grabbing a piece of the aid.”

On Thursday (15th), Major General Ghasan Alyan, head of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) wrote on the unit’s X account that, for three days, the UN has not collected about 500 trucks of humanitarian aid that are waiting on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The trucks are awaiting collection and distribution by UN organizations after their contents underwent an Israeli security inspection.

“It is the third day in a row that hundreds of trucks are not picked up.  The UN needs to scale up their operations,” Alyan wrote in the post.



Israel’s Gaza War Is Self Defense, No Apologies Needed – Prof. Gil Troy

• I won’t apologize for Israel’s justified actions in self-defense since October 7.  Beyond unfairly counting natural deaths and Palestinians killed by rocket misfires, Hamas inflates the number of “innocents” killed in Gaza by at least 12,000 – the number of terrorists killed.  Echoing Hamas’ statistics makes all Palestinians  “innocent,” no matter how murderous, or deems the IDF the world’s worst army, only killing civilians, missing every terrorist.

• Why should Israel apologize when Hamas still holds 134 hostages, when we’ve barely finished identifying Israelis burned to a crisp, when our sexually abused and maimed brothers and sisters are still adjusting to the wounds that will forever haunt them?  Is anyone demanding Hamas apologize for the destruction it unleashed on Oct. 7, or seeking apologies from Palestinians who joined and cheered?

• Hamas attacks.  Israel counterattacks justifiably.  Hamas terrorists hid behind defenses they built by stealing humanitarian aid, exposing their women and children to make propaganda points – and the world buys it.   

• So, no, Israel should not apologize.  Nor has Israel behaved in an “over-the-top” way or “dehumanized “ Palestinians – as President Joe Biden  and Secretary of State Antony Blinken unfairly charged.

• As an American historian, I understand that the most pressing moral question is: “Is the war justified?”  Every liberal democrat knows that the moral imperative when fighting a just war is to save yourself, your comrades, and your country.  I, for one, am proud of how effectively and carefully Israel has defended itself.

• Both Blinken and Biden supported the Iraq war and the other post-9/11 wars which killed over 400,000 civilians.  I wonder if either believes America “dehumanized” the Germans or the Japanese during World War II.  America has never apologized for any disproportionate deaths in wartime.  Apparently, I missed the lectures describing the times America stopped short of winning to please an ally or provided humanitarian aid during wartime – for the enemy to steal.  

The writer, an American presidential historian, is a Senior Fellow in Zionist Thought at the Jewish People Policy Institute.



FBI Arrests Indiana man Who Promised To ‘Kill Every Jew’ In Fort Wayne

The FBI arrested an Indiana man who promised to “kill every Jew” in Fort Wayne last year, JTA reports, leaving local Jewish leaders to question why they were not alerted to the threat sooner.

The suspect, 41-year-old Jeffrey Stevens, who was arrested on Tuesday (13th), admitted in interviews that he had posted violent anti-Semitic threats directly to the website of the CIA, as well as in Facebook a direct message to the Fort Wayne Police Department, according to a newly released affidavit.

Stevens also wrote to the CIA, “I am going to shoot every pro-Israel US government official in the head,” and boasted of having “strong Palestinian, Hezbollah and Iranian contacts.”

He is charged with communicating a threat in interstate commerce and faces a maximum of five years in prison, JTA reported.

Stevens told officials he had a “drinking problem,” according to the affidavit.  He wrote the posts, including one reading “Death to the Zionists,” following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, but also posted some Israel-related material from other social media accounts prior to that.

As news of the arrest emerged, Jewish leaders wondered why they had not been warned of Steven’s intentions, despite the fact that he sent his threats directly to law enforcement months ago.

“We only found out about this two days ago and the whole incident occurred in November,” Jaki Schreier, executive director of the local Jewish Federation, told JTA in an email, adding, “We are NOT HAPPY to say the least.”

News of the arrest comes amid a sharp increase in anti-Semitism in the US in the wake of the Hamas October 7 attack on southern Israel, and the war in Gaza that ensued.

The Indiana House of Representatives last month unanimously approved a new bill which defines anti-Semitism as religious discrimination in the state education code.

Advocates for the bill said instances of anti-semitism have increased at college campuses in Indiana since the October 7 attack. 

According to data published in December, there has been a 700% increase in the number of anti-semitic incidents against Jewish students on US campuses since October 7.



British Foreign Secretary’s Patronizing Advice Would Doom Israel To Defeat –  Col. Richard Kemp

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has virtually called on Israel to surrender to Hamas as it prepares to destroy the terrorist group in Rafah.  His call for a ceasefire is exactly what Hamas wants and has demanded from Israel – an end to the war that it is catastrophically losing.  For Israel, destroying Hamas in Rafah is non-negotiable.

Would Cameron have called for a ceasefire as Allied troops were poised to cross the Rhine in March 1945?  Of course Israel can not halt its offensive now any more than the Allies could then.

Like a schoolmaster lecturing a recalcitrant schoolboy, Cameron has told Israel to “stop and think very seriously before it takes any further action.”  Who does he think he is talking down to?  Does he seriously believe the Israeli War Cabinet and general staff have not been working round the clock for months, “thinking seriously” about every action they take in this war.?

If Cameron had his way, and the operation in Rafah were suspended or canceled, what would have been the point of the last few months of fighting inside Gaza?  The remnants of Hamas would quickly regroup, re-arm and renew their decades of violent aggression against Israeli civilians.  Those who really want to end the bloodshed should not be giving Hamas hope by condemning Israel’s future prosecution of the war.

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