News Digest — 3/14/24

‘No Safe Haven For Terrorists’ Vows Israeli Defense Minister…

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited the Gaza Strip Wednesday morning (13th) with the troops of the IDF’s Division 162, under the command of Brig. Gen. Itzik Cohen.

During his visit, Gallant held an operational situational assessment together with the commander of the Nahal Brigade, Col. Yair Zuckerman, and the Commander of Brigade 401, Col. Benny Aharon.

While in the Strip, Gallant observed the work carried out in preparation for the maritime corridor.

The minister also spoke with battalion and division commanders who have been serving in the Gaza Strip for over five months – and soldiers who expressed their motivation to continue operating until achievement of the war goals.

Gallant vowed that Israel would leave terrorists “no safe haven” in the coastal enclave, hinting at Israel’s impending operation in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

“I am here in Gaza with the forces of Division 162, adjacent to the corridor.  I met the troops who are conducting extraordinary work above and below the ground.  Our forces reach every location necessary, and we can conclude that there is no safe haven for terrorists in Gaza.”

“Even those who think we are delayed, will soon see that we will reach every location necessary.  We will bring to justice anyone who was involved in the massacre conducted on October 7th.”

“We will either eliminate them [the terrorists] or bring them to trial in Israel.  There is no safe haven – not here, not outside of Gaza, not across the Middle East – we will bring them to justice.”

Gallant expressed optimism that the planned maritime corridor which will open a route for aid channeled through Cyprus and into a temporary port on the Gaza coast, would weaken Hamas’ position in the Strip.

“The humanitarian element that will soon be addressed with the expected arrival of the vessels carrying aid, is a central issue that will facilitate the delivery of supplies to civilians and not to Hamas.  Every action of this kind, weakens Hamas and strengthens us, and improves our ability to continue fighting,” Gallant concluded.



Israel Kills Senior Hamas Terrorist In Lebanon Drone Strike

On Wednesday (13th) an Israeli drone strike targeted a car in southern Lebanon near the coastal city of Tyre, killing a member of the Palestinian terrorist Hamas group.

Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in Gaza on Oct. 7, Israeli strikes have killed or wounded several ranking members of the Lebanese terrorist Hezbollah group as well as its ally Hamas in different parts of Lebanon.

Hamas identified its slain member as Hadi Mustafa and said he was with the group’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades.  Lebanese state media said he was from Rashideh near Tyre, where Hamas has a notable presence.

The Israeli military released a video of the strike and said Mustafa was directing cells to attack “Israeli and Jewish targets” in different parts of the world and reiterated that the Israeli army and security agencies would go after Hamas wherever the Palestinian group is active.

The strike came a day after a pair of Israeli airstrikes hit deep into Lebanese territory killing a Hezbollah member and another person and wounding 20.

The strikes were in retaliation for a barrage of 100 Katyusha rockets that Hezbollah fired Tuesday (12th), targeting several Israeli military positions, including two bases in northern Israel.

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas-led terrorists stormed into southern Israel on Oct.7, murdering some 1,200 people, mostly civilians and taking over 253 hostages.  Since then, there have been near-daily exchanges along the Lebanon-Israel border. 

Hezbollah has vowed not to stop the fighting with Israel until a cease-fire is reached in Gaza.  The most daring alleged Israeli strike in Lebanon came in early January when top Hamas official Saleh Arouri  and six others were killed in a Beirut apartment.



Earthquake In Israel: 3.8-Magnitude Strikes North

Residents of northern and central Israel reported feeling an earthquake on Wednesday (13th), Israel media reported.

The Geological Institute reported that the earthquake felt by northern residents had a magnitude of 3.8 on the Richter scale, and occurred at a depth of approximately 10.5 miles.

There were reports that the earthquake was felt in Tiberias, the Jordan Valley, Karmiel, Haifa,  and the Hadera area.  Some felt the quake even farther south in areas such as Rehovot and Modi’in. 

The Haifa municipality issued a statement, saying “A short time ago, an earthquake occurred in the Sea of Galilee but was also felt in Haifa.  So far no damage has been reported.

“Earthquake alerts were activated in three schools in the city of Haifa.  The students were quickly and safely evacuated from the school buildings, and after examining the surroundings and receiving the approval from security guards, the students returned to their studies.”



South African Minister: We Will Arrest Citizens Who Return From IDF Service

South African International Relations and Coordination Minister Naledi Pandor suggested in a speech last week that South Africans who have served in the IDF could be arrested upon returning to the country.

“I’ve already issued a statement alerting those who are South African and who are fighting alongside or in the IDF that we are ready when you come home; we’re going to arrest you.” Pandor said to raucous applause.

The minister was speaking at an event held by her party, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In response to the statements, which were made last week but were circulating online and in the Israeli media on Wednesday (13th), MK Yulia Malinovsky of Yisrael Beiteinu wrote on X, “Why is the foreign ministry silent?  Why do we still have diplomatic relations with South Africa?” adding, “After everything that happened in the Hague.”

South Africa made global headlines last fall when it filed a case in the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel was committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.  The suit requested  that the court demand Israel cease fighting there.

The court has not yet ruled on the merits of the case but declined to make such a demand, instead issuing a series of directives that essentially demanded Israel observe its existing obligations under the Genocide Convention and report to the court on its doing so.

In her remarks, Pandor also addressed the question of what resolution to the conflict South Africa ultimately endorses and whether she, as a minister, would express support for Hamas, the terror group that, having governed Gaza since 2006, started the current war with its invasion of Israel’s south on October 7.

“In terms of our foreign policy,” Pandor said, “our foreign policy promotes peace and negotiation.  And I cannot – I cannot – criticize Israel for killing women and children, brutally, and then say I praise Hamas for holding innocent Israelis hostage.”

“We can’t do that.” Pandor went on, adding, “You can do it.  You are an activist on the ground.  I am a member of the government.”  She then told the crowd, “I, as a government member, cannot be saying that.  Don’t expect me to say what you say.” 

Hamas and Israel are currently engaged in ongoing hostage negotiations, as the terrorist group and its allies hold 134 Israelis captive in Gaza.

In November, several weeks into the IDF’s ground invasion of the Strip, Hamas turned over 110 hostages, all of them women and children, in exchange for a limited ceasefire and the release from Israeli jails of hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners.



The Statistics Show That Yahya Sinwar Is Still Head Of Gaza – Even In The Bunker

A special analysis conducted by the business intelligence company “Buzzilla” for Ma’ariv shows that in the last three weeks, the general discourse on Arabic language social media in Gaza has been mainly positive towards the Hamas terrorist organization in general and towards its leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, in particular.

The data analysis showed that the general discourse towards Sinwar is positive – a surprising figure since discourse on social media tends to be critical.

The company’s experts point out that it is possible to detect an increase in the positive discourse towards Sinwar personally when threats against him from the Israeli side come up in the media.

For example, after the IDF spokesman stated that the “fighters will get to Sinwar dead or alive,”many reactions were seen on Gaza social media praising him as the one who surprised Israel,  and for the fact that he is still in hiding.

No conversation calling for the release of the Israeli hostages was found during the inspection.

Alongside the positive discourse, many comments were found that blamed Israel for the situation in Gaza, wished for the “destruction of the Zionist enemy,” and prayed for the Palestinian people.

In the period between March 3 and March 9, there was a jump in the amount of discussion about Sinwar on Gaza social media.

Almost 44,000 interactions were found, with the assessment that the cause of the increase  were reports of a hostage release and ceasefire before Ramadan.

During this period also were negative reactions about the damage in Gaza, discussing the displaced, infrastructure, and the dead.

The company’s experts also identified a broad discourse that directly blamed the Hamas leader (“you destroyed us,” “It wasn’t worth it,” and even curses, “May God curse you Sinwar.”).

On the other hand, broad support on posters called to “destroy the Zionist enemy.”

Between March 10 and 13 , there were again positive reactions toward the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and many negative reactions towards Israel.

When Ramadan began without achieving a pause in fighting, many comments were found that praised  Sinwar as someone “who stands firm in the face of Israeli threats.”

The increase in the positive discourse towards Hamas also was attributed to the many reports that Israel succeeded in eliminating the “Hamas Chief of Staff” Marwan Issa.



Stop The War In Gaza By Defeating Hamas – Bernard Henri Levy

Those crying out against genocide are the same people who call for the birth of a Palestine from the Jordan River to the sea that would involve an ethnic cleansing purging the entire region of all Jewish presence.  (Apparently, pure genocide is OK, where imagined genocide is worthy of an impassioned outcry!)

A small, fragile and threatened country, confronted with the most sadistic mass terror attack in modern history, responds like any other democracy would have in its place, and, in fact, like the U.S. did when invading Afghanistan after Sept. 11.  Instead of supporting Israel in its legitimate self-defense, the world accuses the Jewish state of poisoning wells and starving the civilian population.

It takes for granted that Israel is “indefensible,” that Zionism – alone among national liberation movements – is a curse word, and that the very survival of the Jewish people on its land is an entirely legitimate object of dispute.

“Ceasefire now!” is a solution that would hand victory to Hamas; prolong the hold of a Muslim Brotherhood death cult on a population that serves as its guinea pig in a horrific experiment; and see the aura of the terror cult and its backers grow beyond Gaza, with all the cataclysmic consequences that one can imagine, both throughout the Middle East and in Europe.

Does anyone care about peace and justice enough to demand an end to this war in the only way it can actually end – with the defeat of Hamas?

The writer is a philosopher and author of more than 30 books.



Israel Has No Choice But To Fight On – Bret Stephens

If Israel were to end the war now, with several Hamas battalions intact, at least four things would happen.  First, it would be impossible to set up a political authority in Gaza that isn’t Hamas: if the Palestinian Authority or local Gazans tried to do so, they wouldn’t live for long. Second, Hamas would reconstitute its military force as Hezbollah did in Lebanon after the 2006 war with Israel – and Hamas has promised to repeat the attacks of Oct. 7 “a second, a third, a fourth” time.

Third, the Israeli hostages would be stuck in their awful captivity indefinitely.  Fourth, no Israeli government is going to agree to any Palestinian state in the West Bank if it resembles Gaza.

This is the fifth major war that Hamas has provoked since it seized power in Gaza in 2007.  After each war, Hamas’ capabilities have grown stronger and its ambitions bolder.  At some point this had to end; for Israelis, Oct. 7 was that point.

Whenever Israel’s critics lecture the country on better calibrating its use of force, they don’t have any concrete suggestions.  The reality of urban warfare is that it’s exceptionally costly and difficult.  The U.S. spent nine months helping Iraqi forces flatten the city of Mosul to defeat ISIS, with results that looked even worse than Gaza does today.  I don’t remember calls for “Ceasefire Now” then.

Israel is fighting a war it didn’t seek, against an enemy sworn to its destruction and holding scores of its citizens hostage.  Around 200,000 Israelis are living as refugees inside their own country because its borders aren’t secure.  No country can tolerate that.  There should be more public pressure on Hamas to surrender than on Israel to save Hamas from the consequences of its actions.  (New York Times)