News Digest — 3/12/24

Barrage Of 100 Rockets Hits North, Israel Strikes Back

Israel responded with strikes after alarms sounded in the Galilee and the Golan Heights as a barrage of at least 100 rockets were launched at northern Israel on Tuesday morning (12th), Israel media reported.

Crashes were reportedly seen in open areas, including near Ein Kuniya, Snir, Sha’ar Yashuv, and Kfar Szold.  The IDF responded by attacking rocket launch posts in Lebanon that had fired towards the North.

Fighter jets also struck three additional launch posts that fired towards the Golan Heights, the IDF reported.

Additionally, fighter jets attacked two Hezbollah compounds in the area of Beka deep in Lebanon in response to earlier rocket fire towards the north of Israel.  The compounds are affiliated with Hezbollah’s air force.

These exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah continue to escalate as the war with Hamas rages on in Gaza.



Gallant Hints At Assassination Of Hamas Leader

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke Monday (11th) with the IDF General Staff Forum chaired by Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.

Gallant said in the discussion that “this is the forum entrusted with the security of the State of Israel.  We are the war generation, the responsibility is on everyone to fulfill their roles to bring about victory.”

The Defense Minister added, in an apparent reference to the reported assassination of Marwan Issa, Hamas’ third-highest ranked leader in Gaza, “There have been successes, including in the last few days and there will be much more successes – the action is consistent and going in the right direction.  At the same time, we have to take into account that there may be additional challenges before us – the most pressing of which is in the north.”  

He also said, “Five months after the start of the campaign, it is clear that Hamas was wrong in its assessment of the situation as to what the State of Israel knows how to do and what it will be willing to sacrifice.  It thought that it would discourage us, that it would divide us, that it would cause the prices to make us lose our nerve, that our friends would leave us – all these things didn’t happen.”

“Both our friends and our enemies are looking at what is happening in the State of Israel, and in this aspect, ending the campaign in victory would also be the beginning of pivots to where the country will develop in the strategic directions  –  the deterrence against our enemies and the support of our friends.  Therefore, it is important to finish this also for the future, not only for the present.” he said.

“The public in Israel also looks to the IDF.  If the IDF knows how to work in unity and cooperation under the most difficult conditions – then all the systems, from the political system down on down, should know how to do this.  I have already addressed this issue more than once to my friends.  I also apply it to myself, all of us need to learn what unity of purpose, partnership in tasks, and a message of togetherness is from the Israel Defense Forces and the other security forces, and I hope that the political system will take an example from the IDF in this matter,” he said.



Katz To Guterres: You’re Biased About Oct 7 Because Victims Were Jewish

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres failed to properly respond to the Hamas-led October 7 invasion of Israel because its victims were Jewish, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Monday (11th).

“Your reluctance to lead a decisive stance against the atrocities committed by Hamas and its affiliated terror groups and the fixation of criticism on Israel … signals a distressing bias,” Katz wrote in a letter he sent to Guterres.

“If the victims had not been Jewish or Israeli descent, your office would have responded in a much ‘more’ vigorous way,” Katz said.

In his letter, Katz nad called on the United Nations to declare Hamas a terror organization in advance of Monday afternoon’s (11th) Security Council debate on the October 7 attack.

“The necessity to declare Hamas as a terror organization and to impose severe sanctions similar to those placed on Al-Qaeda and Daesh is critical and indisputable,” Katz wrote.

He also urged Guterres to do more to ensure the “immediate and unconditional release” of all the remaining 134 hostages in Gaza.

The UNSC debate, held at the request of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, is slated to focus on the report authored by Pramila Patten, the UN special representative of the secretary-general on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  It found “reasonable grounds” to believe that Hamas and affiliated groups  had committed acts of sexual violence against its victims during its invasion of Israel on October 7.

Monday’s (11th) debate marked the first time the UNSC has debated sexual violence related to October 7.  Katz in his letter to Guterres however, focused largely on the growing animosity between Israel and the Secretary-General, due to the latter’s response to the October 7 attacks.

“Your response to the atrocities committed by Hamas is unacceptable.  Your dismissal of the heinous acts as documented in the recent UN report,” acts which are also being perpetrated against the hostages, “is not only inadequate but also offensive,” Katz wrote.



Violent Anti-Israel Protest Targets Teaneck Synagogue

A pro-Hamas demonstration targeting a Teaneck Synagogue turned violent on Sunday (10th) when protestors hurled objects and sprayed red paint at counter-protestors, commuters, and pedestrians according to the Bergen County Jewish Action Committee (BCJAC)Teaneck police arrested at least two protestors during the demonstration which drew an estimated 1,000 protestors, mostly non-Teaneck residents.

BCJAC spokesman Yigal Gross strongly condemned the demonstration, which was held outside an informational program on real estate in Israel being held at Congregation Keter Torah, an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue in Teaneck, as “a cynical attempt to target a religious institution under false pretenses as part of a coordinated and malicious campaign to harass Teaneck’s Jewish community.”

According to Gross, “these protestors knowingly misrepresented, and made utterly unfounded and inflammatory claims about the event in an attempt to mask what was little more than the targeted harassment of a peaceful religious community by a violent mob.”

The BCJAC stated, “As they have elsewhere in the United States and abroad in the wake of Israel’s defensive war against the terrorist group Hamas following the October 7th massacre, pro-Hamas demonstrators have escalated their attempt to target Jewish communities.  Teaneck, where Jewish residents number as much as 40% of the population, has seen numerous protests over these past months.”

“It is no coincidence that this random quiet New Jersey town has become such a flashpoint for pro-Palestinian activism,” said Gross.  “These protests are here because we are here.  They are seeking out and targeting Teaneck’s Jews.”

Even so, according to Mr. Gross, “by targeting a local synagogue, these protestors have now taken their pattern of bigotry and harassment to a new level.  We support citizens’ right to free speech, but the right to worship is equally sacrosanct.   Every American should be able to enter a house of worship without fear of intimidation.”

Gross also expressed worry that targeting religious institutions, particularly those frequented by families and young children, elevates the risk of things getting out of hand.  Gross pointed out that similar protests, including one in the neighboring town of Englewood, attracted unruly mobs from out of town and evolved into chaos, with vandalism, violence and arrests.  “We don’t want these things taking place near houses of worship and around families and young children.  We can disagree on political issues, but we all have a responsibility to maintain a basic level of decency and decorum and preserve the peace and security to which everyone living in Teaneck is entitled.”

“We believe there are bad actors trying to drive a wedge between teaneck’s residents and to isolate and intimidate its Jewish community,” he said.  “Thankfully, they are failing in their efforts.  Our community continues to stand strong and proud.   Our event was held as planned, and we are thankful that neighbors of all backgrounds and faiths as well as local law enforcement continue standing with our community in these difficult times.”



Sinwar’s Ramadan Jihad Dream:  Will The “Al-Aqsa Flood Reach Jerusalem? – Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hoping that the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which began Sunday (10th) will see an upsurge in violence against Israel.  This is why Sinwar is reluctant to move forward with negotiations for the release of the Israeli hostages.  Sinwar and the Hamas “tunnel leadership” in Gaza, have not lost hope that other Arabs and Muslims will join Hamas in its fight against Israel.

Hamas’ branding of the Oct. 7 massacre as the “Al-Aqsa Flood” followed Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat’s similar branding of the “Al-Aqsa Intifada” that began in 2000.  At the time, Palestinian propaganda advertised the Second Intifada as a duty to defend Islamic holy sites, a still-popular theme in Palestinian media.  Sinwar views himself as a great Muslim warrior who successfully planned an invasion of Israel.

Hamas leaders have not concealed their disappointment with their failure to ignite a multi-front confrontation with Israel.  Hamas supporters have mocked Hezbollah for firing anti-tank missiles at the same Israeli military outpost for the past four months, indicating that Hezbollah is not serious about an all-out war with Israel.

Hamas is also disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm for a renewed intifada in the West Bank.  Though there have been sporadic terror attacks in the West Bank and the Jerusalem area, their intensity is not significantly different from those of the past few years.  Moreover, the vast majority of Israel’s Arab citizens have refrained from acts of violence and displays of support for Hamas’ terrorism.

There was no repeat of the May 2021 riots that erupted in mixed cities inside Israel for several reasons.  First, more than 20 Arab Muslims were killed during Hamas’ murder spree, and several members of the Bedouin community were kidnapped.  Second, Arab Israelis were shocked by the magnitude of the savagery perpetrated by Hamas and emphasized that Hamas did not represent the values of Islam or Arab culture.  Third, the Arabs did not want to repeat the mistake of May 2021, which provided an excuse for some in Israel to label them as a fifth column.

Dr. Dan Diker is president of the Jerusalem Center, where veteran journalist Khaled Abu Toameh is a fellow,  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)



The Disgusting Defacement Of Lord Balfour’s Painting – Brendan O’Neill

Not content with traipsing through the streets every other weekend to holler their hatred for Israel, now “pro-Palestine” activists are taking an aim at art.  Witness the fevered attack on the painting of Lord Balfour of Cambridge University – an act of petulant self-satisfied philistinism that will do precisely nothing to help people in Gaza.

The slashing of the painting was carried out by a member of a group called Palestine Action. She walked up to the 1914 portrait and sprayed it with red paint before wielding her knife to cut it to shreds.  Why target Balfour?  Because he played a key role in creating the modern state of Israel.  And to the manically Israel Phobic, there are few sins as grave as that. 

There was something deeply unsettling about this Taliban-style assault on a piece of art.  An individual, under the spell of some kind of fear or animus, using violence to try to cleanse the world of a sinful image.  It feels like a Red Guard-style effort to scrub “the problematic” from public view.  Such wanton cultural vandalism is the rage of the entitled, destroying art in the name of “saving Palestine.”  It’s the theater of self-righteousness.

The slashing of that painting was not merely a performative assault on a Dead White European Male.  It was also a noisy, violent signal that anyone involved in the creation of Israel is evil and deserves erasure from public life.  It was a clamorous declaration of intolerance towards anyone who helped to found or who supports this allegedly evil state.  What will no doubt be justified as an anti-imperial act, was in truth an imperious expression of haughty English disgust for a tiny state overseas.

Some seem to be in the grip of a kind of Palestine mania.  Their feverish obsession with Israel and the idea that it is a “uniquely murderous” entity belongs less to the realm of reason than to the sphere of moral delirium.  Why does Israel-Palestine induce in some people more wrath and more emotion than anything else happening in the world right now?  I know why I think it does.  (Spectator-UK)