News Digest — 3/8/24

Netanyahu: Israel Will Push On With Gaza War On Hamas, Including In Rafah

Israel will push on with its offensive against Hamas, including into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, despite growing international pressure to stop, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday (7th).

Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas after its terrorists attacked southern Israel on Oct.7, killing 1,200 people and abducting 253.  More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza during Israel’s subsequent offensive according to Hamas health authority estimates, prompting worldwide criticism and condemnation.  Of course the number killed includes 13,000 Hamas terrorists, killed in the war, and 1,000 terrorists killed by Israel on Oct.7.

“There is international pressure and it’s growing, but particularly when the international pressure rises, we must close ranks, we need to stand together against the attempt to stop the war,” he said.

Addressing a graduation ceremony at a training school for Israeli army officers, Netanyahu also said Israel must push back against a “calculated attempt” to blame Israel for Hamas’ crimes.

He added that Israel would operate throughout Gaza, “including Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold.”  

“Whoever tells us not to act in Rafah is telling us to lose the war, and that will not happen,” Netanyahu said.



Khan Yunis: IDF Takes Out 15 Terrorists Hidden In Tunnel Shafts

On Thursday night (7th) a number of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel prompting sirens in the city of Sderot and communities near the Gaza Strip.

Within minutes, IDF artillery struck the source of the fire and a weapons storage factory assessed to be the source of the rockets fired toward Nahal Oz.  IDF fighter jets struck other terror targets in the vicinity, including a launch post used to fire toward Israel, a military compound and a tunnel shaft.

During extensive IDF activity in Khan Yunis, the troops killed approximately 15 terrorists and located tunnel shafts in the area of Al-Qarara.  In one incident the troops identified an armed terrorist cell that was preparing to attack the forces.  An aircraft eliminated the cell.

In the Hamad area of Khan Yunis, troops engaged in combat, locating numerous weapons and demolishing tunnel shafts.  Additionally, soldiers apprehended several terrorists, including two Hamas operatives armed with AK-47 rifles.  Terrorists who exited a weapons storage facility and a concealed terror operative carrying an explosive grenade were also eliminated by the troops.

Over the past day, IDF troops from the Nahal Brigade killed approximately 15 terrorists in the central Gaza Strip by precise sniper fire, as well as by aircraft and fighter jet strikes.  In one incident, a terrorist cell that was identified near IDF troops was promptly eliminated.



Hezbollah Fires Rocket Volleys At North – Hits Home With Anti-Tank Missile

Hezbollah fired several separate volleys of rockets and missiles at northern Israel communities and army bases on Thursday (7th) as the terror group kept up attacks in what it has said was solidarity with the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces responded with artillery fire toward the rocket and missile launch sites, as a report asserted Jerusalem had set a March 15 deadline for a diplomatic deal pushing the Iran-backed terrorist organization forces from southern Lebanon.

There were no reports of injuries in the Hezbollah attacks throughout the day, though a home in the border town of Metula was damaged after being directly struck by an anti-tank missile, according to local authorities.

On Thursday morning (7th), Hezbollah said it had targeted an IDF site south of the border community of Rosh Hanikra.  Some ten rockets were launched in the barrage, with nine of them being downed by the Iron Dome air defense system, according to the IDF.

Following the October 7 terror onslaught that triggered the Israel-Hamas war, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

Earlier Thursday (7th), the IDF said troops downed a Hezbollah explosive-laden drone that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon, near Bar’an.  Another drone crashed in the Mount Hermon area, causing no injuries, the IDF said.

It was also confirmed that two rockets were fired from Syria at Israel overnight, hitting open areas in the Golan Heights.

Meanwhile, a Lebanese newspaper linked to Hezbollah claimed that Israel had set a March 15 deadline for a diplomatic deal pushing the terror group from southern Lebanon, after which it is prepared to escalate the ongoing border skirmishes into a war.

On Wednesday (6th), Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told US special envoy Amos Hochstein that Hezbollah’s continued attacks on Israel were bringing the country closer to a decision regarding military action in Lebanon.

Since October 8, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in seven civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 Israeli soldiers and reservists.  There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.  Hezbollah has named 235 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon, but some also in Syria.   In Lebanon, 37 operatives from other terror groups have also been killed.



‘We Are Ready:’ Iranian People Send Message Of Support To Israel

Iranian opposition activists placed banners showing support for Israel on a pedestrian bridge at the entrance to Tehran.  The message refers to Vahid Beheshti’s visit to Israel, an Iranian opposition activist who came to the Israeli Knesset in January as a guest of the Israel MIddle East Forum.

Vahid Beheshti said: “The message is ‘we are ready.’  The Iranians are saying that they are ready for an Israeli attack that will crush the Ayatollah regime, and then the Iranian people will join and help bring down the regime.  On my last trip to Israel, as the first Iranian to speak in the Knesset, I stated that the only way to achieve peace in the region is to eliminate the Islamic Republic.  We have an army of 80 million Iranians who are thirsty for freedom and democracy to meet them.”

“I also emphasized targeting the main officials of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp, nuclear sites, and the regime headquarters within Iran.  Referring to my statements in the Israeli parliament, the brave people of Iran expressed their demand for support in fighting against terrorists of the Islamic Republic.”

Concurrently, the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, Esmail Qaani, issued a stern warning to Israel and “its allies” saying that the resistance front has not yet demonstrated its full capabilities in terms of military force and deterrence and that “Tel Aviv should expect more surprises.”

“We have not yet used all our abilities.  We have proven that we cannot be taken for granted,” he added.  “Today, the resistance front, especially Hamas, has adopted an aggressive approach based on their determination and the weapons at their disposal.  These are the young people who, in the past, could only use their bare hands in defense against Israel.  We are posing a significant challenge to the Israeli army,” he claimed.

Last week, American media reported that Iran had given the terrorist organization Hezbollah the green light to carry out a more extensive attack on Israel.  The order was given due to concern in Tehran that the IDF would soon invade Rafah and then carry out a ground operation in Lebanon.

During the month of December, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdallahian commented on the assassination of senior Revolutionary Guards commander Sayyid Rizwan Musavi, an attack attributed to Israel, stating, “Tel Aviv should count down.”



Chilean Jews Slam President For Barring Israel’s Companies From Defense Expo

Chile’s Jewish community and a group of senior retired military officers were among those voicing condemnation on Wednesday (6th) of the Chilean government’s decision to exclude Israeli companies from a major aerospace and defense fair in Santiago in April.

The Latin American nation’s Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday (5th) that Israeli exhibitors would be barred from the FIDAE 2024 show, which takes place from April 9-14, in a protest against the current war in Gaza.

On Wednesday (6th), Chilean Interior Minister Carolina Toha defended the decision, saying that “human rights are our first priority.”

The fair brings together defense officials and companies from more than 40 countries.

The announcement drew an angry response from the Jewish community of Chile (CIC), which issued a statement accusing the country’s far left President Gabriel Boric, of “importing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into Chile without weighing the consequences.”

Referring to the steep rise in anti-Semitism in Chile since the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7 in Israel, the CIC said that Boric “has forgotten the thousands of Chilean Jewish compatriots in our country.”

It added that anti-Semitism has manifested itself in an overwhelming manner in the country we considered as a copy of the Garden of Eden.”

Separately, four former senior officers from the Chilean military issued statements condemning the government.

“The suspension of the participation of Israel’s defense companies in FIDAE 2024 produces serious strategic political effects, since our country is highly dependent on Israel for defense and spatial development, as the National Satellite System (SNSAT) in its entirety depends on companies from that country.”

Israel’s Ambassador in Chile, Gil Artzyeli, also condemned the government’s decision, observing in a statement that the ban on Israeli companies was a setback to “bilateral relations of more than 70 years, not only in defense and security, but also in other areas such as water resources management, agriculture, health, academic exchange, science and technology.”

Chile has emerged as one of the most hostile countries to Israel in Latin America in the wake of Boric’s election in 2022.

Boric has clashed with the Jewish community on several occasions over his inflammatory comments about Israel and Jews.

In 2019, while still in the opposition, he responded to a gift of a jar of honey from the Jewish community to mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, by tweeting, “The Jewish community of Chile sent me a jar of honey for the Jewish New Year, reaffirming its commitment to ‘a more inclusive, supportive and respectful society.’  I appreciate the gesture, but they could start by asking Israel to return illegally occupied Palestinian territory.”

He also drafted legislation in support of the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) campaign targeting Israel, winning strong support from the 350,000-strong Palestinian community in Chile – the largest Palestinian diaspora outside of the Middle East and one with very heavy political clout.



The Most Worrying Period For Jews Since World War II – David Horowitz

Around the world, spiking anti-Semitism.  Vast “pro-Palestinain” demonstrations in the West at which many would deny the only Jewish state its right to exist.  Physical attacks on Jews in ostensibly enlightened countries.  Jews everywhere are more wary than they were in decades about publicly identifying as Jews.

This all began after Oct. 7, when the terrorist army of a virulently anti-Semitic Islamic government invaded Israel from neighboring territory, slaughtered 1,200 people and kidnapped 253 more, and would have kept on killing throughout the country if it could.  And it has all intensified since then, because the Israeli government recognized that it needed to ensure the Hamas terrorist government was prevented from pursuing its avowed agenda of slaughtering Jews again and again until Israel is destroyed.

We had thought after World War II that, at least in our lifetimes and for a few generations to come, the oldest hatred had been marginalized.  We were wrong.  No governments in purportedly reasonable countries are endorsing anti-Semitism and the targeting of Jews.  But there is growing empathy in many government quarters for the obsessive and skewed hostility to Israel, and for policies that would weaken its capacity to defend itself against its avowed genocidal enemies.



The Difficulty Of Delivering Aid In War Zones – John Spencer

I watched the aerial footage of the disaster surrounding the Israel Defense Forces attempt to deliver aid to northern Gaza last Thursday (2/29) in horror.  It brought back memories of my own experiences trying to deliver humanitarian aid during combat in war-torn cities.

As a platoon leader in northern Iraq in 2003, I was tasked to use my infantry platoon to distribute water with a giant water truck to a crowded slum in Kirkuk.  A crowd began to surround us and soon turned into a mob.  Thoughts ran through my mind of a suicide bomber or a weapon firing from the crowd.  They crowded the security trucks screaming and making the soldiers extremely nervous.  It rapidly became uncomfortable and I gave the order to pack up and withdraw.

A few weeks later, we were tasked to deliver trucks of cooking gas into another area of Kirkuk.  As we drove to the distribution site, civilian pickup trucks packed with men started to drive next to and even into the gas trucks.  Men from the pickups tried to jump onto the gas trucks.  We had to abort the operation, and I told my convoy to return to base.

In 2009, as a company commander in Baghdad, I was tasked to deliver water and MREs (meals-ready-to-eat), the same ones that were air-dropped by the U.S. this week in Gaza, to an impoverished neighborhood.  Within minutes a crowd formed and turned into a mob.  My soldiers were being engulfed.  I immediately ordered a withdrawal.

Soldiers always have the right of self-defense.  In Gaza, where heavy fighting continues, threats can be snipers or rocket-propelled grenades.  We know Hamas operatives, dressed in civilian clothes, have been walking up to armored vehicles to place magnet bombs and fire into the crowd during humanitarian aid distribution.

The writer, chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point, served for 25 years as an infantry soldier, including two combat tours in Iraq.