News Digest — 4/8/24

IDF Chief Of Staff: ‘War In Gaza Continues And We Are Far From Stopping’

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi marked six months since the beginning of the war in Gaza and addressed the IDF withdrawal from large areas of the Gaza Strip on Sunday (7th).

“Today marks six months of the war,  one which we set out to from a very difficult point.  We regained our composure and are fighting with strength and determination.  We are fighting this different kind of war, unlike those that came before it, and in deep consideration, no two which have been alike,” Halevi stated.

“This is a long war, with varying intensity.  In some places, it seems that life has returned to its course, and all the while the soldiers are fighting heroically, the home front doesn’t feel this, but the soldiers’ families feel it very deeply.  This is not routine.  We are in a multi-arena war.  There is no reason for panic, but also no place for complacency.  We must be aware of the situation and always prepared.”

“Know that IDF troops are prepared and operating in every arena – in the south, in the north, in Judea and Samaria, and in more distant arenas.  The IDF knows how to deal with Iran – offensively and defensively.  We are prepared for this, we have good defense systems, and we know how to act forcefully against Iran in both near and  distant places.  We are operating in cooperation with the USA and strategic partners in the region.  Since the beginning of the war, Iran has tried to distance itself from direct involvement in it, but we know that it activates, directs, funds, and transfers knowledge to all its proxies in the region – from Hezbollah, through Judea and Samaria, to Yemen.  Iran not only threatens Israel but the entire Western and Arab world – Iran is a global problem, it was and remains the biggest issue,” he declared.

Regarding the war in Gaza, the Chief of Staff insisted it continues, “and we are far from stopping.  Senior Hamas officials are still hiding.  We will reach them sooner or later.  We are advancing, continuing to eliminate more terrorists and commanders and are destroying more terrorist infrastructure, including last night.  We will not leave any Hamas brigades active – in any part of the Gaza Strip.  We have plans and will act when we decide.  Alongside the offensive effort, we are allowing the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.  Hamas’ interest is to project a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in order to pressure an end to the war.  Hamas tries to take control of the humanitarian aid and prevents its desired distribution, in order to return and control the Gaza Strip – it is not right for this to happen.”

”Therefore we continue to dismantle Hamas – we are dismantling Hamas, its military and governance capabilities. – in order to bring about a different solution that will bring stability to the region.”

Halevi continued: “Yesterday in an IDF and ISA operation, we retrieved from the depths of Khan Yunis, the body of the hostage Elad Katzir.  Elad was abducted from his home in Nir Oz, on October 7, and was murdered by the terrorists holding him captive in the Gaza Strip.  I am pained and share in the grief of the Katzir family and the Nir Oz community.  We all wanted to bring him back alive – we did not succeed in this.  Unfortunately, I did not know Elad, but I know, I heard how special he was for his family and friends.”

Halevi promised: “We will continue to act in every way.  We will continue our efforts – intelligence and operational, to return all the hostages as quickly as possible.  As the Chief of the General Staff, I personally feel responsible for returning them, and so do the rest of the IDF commanders and soldiers.”

Halevi noted that “Over the past half a year, we have paid a heavy price in a very just war for our home.  We lost many soldiers and commanders.  We have many wounded and injured in combat,  The risking of their lives deserves great appreciation.  We embrace the bereaved families with an eternal hug,  and strengthen the wounded and their families on their path to recovery.”

“For half a year, the residents of the north have not returned to their homes.  I know the situation is not easy, and we are working with the heads of the authorities to improve the situation.  We will return them to their homes only when there is security, and this will take more time.  Hezbollah needs to pay a heavy price for its participation in the war.  We are fighting in the north and are preparing for the possibility of war. We are in a high state of readiness for this,”

According to the Chief of Staff, “When we went to war, at the beginning, we knew it would take a long time to achieve our goals.  We have brought very significant achievements in the fighting in Gaza but the goals have not fully been achieved – returning all the hostages home, returning the residents of the north to their homes in security, and dismantling Hamas throughout the Gaza Strip, in a way that allows for a different governance, that isn’t Hamas.”

Halevi concluded, “The IDF is operating with determination – I believe in, and very much rely on, the soldiers and commanders.  We have brave determined soldiers who believe in the righteousness of our path.  The State of Israel gives us strong and important backing.  The spirit of the IDF alongside its strength with the support of the nation will bring about the achievement of the goals of the war.”



IDF Eliminates Radwan Forces Commander In Lebanon

On Sunday night (7th), IAF fighter jets struck and eliminated Ali Ahmed Hassin, the commander of the Hezbollah terrorist organization’s Radwan Forces in the Hajir region.

The strike was carried out in the area of Soltaniyeh in southern Lebanon.

Ali Hamed Hassin was a senior operative in the terrorist organization and held a rank equivalent to that of brigade commander.  In his role, he was responsible for planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians in northern Israel.

Since the beginning of the war, Hassin carried out numerous launches toward Israeli territory.

During the strike on Sunday night (7th), two additional Hezbollah terrorists who were under his command were eliminated.



Terrorist Gunman Wounds Two Israelis In Roadside Shooting Attack In Samaria

Two Israelis were wounded in a terrorist shooting in Samaria Sunday morning (7th).  A 19-year-old female soldier is fighting for her life  after being seriously wounded in a shooting attack on a bus and a private car.

The attack took place on Route 55 east of Qalqilya, between the Palestinian Authority-administered towns of Nabi Elias and Azzoun when a terrorist gunman ambushed several Israeli vehicles, shooting a bus and private cars.

Along with the female soldier who was wounded seriously, was a man in his 40s.

The soldier was shot while traveling in a bus. Which continued on its route to the Israeli town Karnei Shomron in Samaria.  Upon its arrival there, the wounded soldier received first aid before being evacuated  to Beilinson Medical Center In Petah Tikva.

“A lot of us arrived at the scene,” said Magen David Adom emergency first responder Assaf Ilkhashi, who was among those called to treat the wounded soldier.

“We entered the bus and saw the young woman sitting on the bus, fully conscious and suffering from a gunshot wound in the shoulder.  We gave her life saving medical treatment and evacuated her in an MDA intensive care unit to the hospital in serious condition.”

Hospital officials said the wounded soldier remains in serious condition and doctors are fighting to stabilize her. 

The second victim was wounded while driving in his car and suffered light wounds.  He drove himself to the Eliyahu checkpoint where he received first aid before being evacuated  to a local hospital for treatment.

IDF forces were dispatched to the scene of the attack to search for the terrorist gunman, cordoning off roads in the area.



No Israeli Embassies Are Safe, Iran Warns

Ayatollah Khamenei’s chief military adviser warned that no Israeli diplomatic facilities are safe as Iran threatened a ‘harsh military attack’ following an airstrike that killed a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader in Damascus. 

Concerns about a wider regional conflict in the Middle East deepened Sunday (7th) as a top Iranian military adviser warned Israel that none of its embassies were safe following last week’s strike in Damascus – blamed on Israel – that killed two elite Iranian generals and flattened an Iranian consular building.

“None of the embassies of the (Israeli) regime are safe anymore,” Gen. Rahim Safavi, a military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim agency.

Israel has not directly acknowledged its involvement.  PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared for any response stating, “Whoever harms us, we will harm them.”

The speaker of Iran’s parliament, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, vowed that Iran would “punish the Israeli regime” for last week’s air strike, threatening a “harsh retaliatory attack,” Tasnim reported.

On Saturday (6th), Iranian army Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri said that an attack against Israel “will be carried out at the right time.”

Speaking at a ceremony honoring IRGC General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, one of the officers killed in last week’s airstrike in Damascus, Bageri added that the strike will include “necessary precision and planning, and with maximum damage to the enemy so that they regret their action.”



Number Of Westerners Seeking To Make Aliyah

Since the start of the war against Hamas in Gaza, Israel has welcomed a total of 12,745 immigrants, according to the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.  This influx, marking the half-year point of the war, includes a notable proportion from Russia (around 8,300) , the United States (about 900), and France and Ukraine (about 400 each).  In addition, a considerable number of immigrants have journeyed from diverse global locations such as Belarus, Cyprus, Argentina, South Africa, Columbia and Australia, among others.

Data from the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration highlights a consistent monthly increase in immigration since October 7, 2023, coinciding with the continuation of the war.  Only 781 immigrants arrived in October 2023, but this figure nearly doubled to 1,466 in November 2023 and reached 2,145 in December 2023.  The first quarter of 2024 saw the arrival of a record 3,074 immigrants in March alone.  These immigrants represent a broad age spectrum , with around 850 retirees and approximately 1,500  elementary and high school students among them.

The Professional diversity among the new arrivals is significant.  Roughly 800 are technology engineers, while a similar number are economists or accountants.  The high-tech sector accounts for nearly 500 immigrants, and about 270 doctors have chosen to relocate to Israel.

There has been a marked uptick in the interest of Jews in Western countries looking to immigrate to Israel, a trend that appears to be linked to a significant rise in anti-Semitism.  The Anti-Semitism Research Center (ARC) , associated with the Combat Anti-Semitism  Movement (CAM), has noted that, in just the past month, 532 instances of anti-Semitism were reported globally.  This average of 17.1 daily incidents represents a stark 315% increase compared to the same period last year.

The severity of anti-Semitic acts seemed to increase in March, and not just the number of incidents.  For example, a Swiss Jewish citizen was stabbed by an immigrant who invoked Islamic ideology during the attack.  In Paris, a Jewish French citizen was assaulted upon exiting a synagogue.  In Uruguay, a swastika was drawn on the National Teachers’ Union’s flagpole.  In New York, the phrase “Free Palestine” was graffitied on a yeshiva building.  At the Paris Institute of Political Studies, a Jewish student was barred from entering a classroom, with shouts of “Don’t let her in, she’s a Zionist” accompanying her exclusion.  In Saudi Arabia, a Jewish member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom was repeatedly instructed by the Saudis to remove his kippah.

“The new anti-Semitism defining recent months globally, primarily manifested through hatred of Israel and opposition to Zionism, has been intensified by the war in Gaza.  This is a veritable seismic shock,” Sacha Roytman, CEO of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM), said in a statement.  “Amid the events in Israel, Jews in the diaspora are experiencing an unprecedented, acute assault in terms of both scale and intensity, as pro-Palestinian elements ally with the radical left to delegitimize both Israel and Jews collectively.”



It Would Be Insane For Britain To Ban Arms Sales To Israel – Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson

• If you want an example of the death wish of Western civilization, I give you the current proposal from members of the British establishment that this country should ban arms sales to Israel.  We are being asked to mount a total moral repudiation of Israel – when that country recently suffered the biggest and most horrifying massacre of Jewish people since World War II;  and when 130 hostages, including a baby,  are being kept in dungeons in Gaza by their jihadi captors.

• What has come over us?  We are willing the military defeat of Israel and the victory of Hamas.  So let’s just remind ourselves what this war is about, and why Israel has been forced to act.  Israel has no choice but to defend itself because the charter and aim of Hamas is to destroy Israel and indeed to liquidate the entire Jewish people.

• Hamas is actively using the death and suffering of their own citizens to rally international opinion against Israel – and we are falling for it.  I do not deny for one minute the suffering of the people of Gaza.  I just ask you to consider who is really to blame for it.

• In all our grief about what is happening on the ground in Gaza, we should not forget the essential moral difference between Hamas and Israel.  Israel is sending warnings of its attacks.  Israel is trying to use precision munitions.  Israel is trying to winkle out the Hamas terrorists, while doing its best to spare the surrounding population.  Israel is trying to minimize casualties.  Hamas is trying to maximize them – including on their own side.

• They think they can succeed in their objective: to deprive Israel of Western support and make it impossible for the Israelis to complete their mission.  If Britain and the United States crumble, then the Israelis will be prevented from getting into Rafah and achieving their objective: of finishing Hamas as a military force in Gaza.  Above all, the rest of the world will see that we did not have the guts or the strategic patience to stick up for a democracy; and that we were willing to let  the jihadis win.

• Is that really what you want, all you legal experts who say that Israel’s actions now necessitate an arms embargo?  Do you want to hand victory to a bunch of murderers and rapists?  That is insane.  That is shameful.