News Digest — 5/22/24

Defense Minister Gallant Defends Gaza War After ICC’s Despicable ‘Arrest Warrants’

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant pushed back Tuesday (21st) against the International Criminal Court  in The Hague, after ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan revealed that Gallant and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face warrants for their conduct during the war against Hamas.

On Monday (20th), Khan told CNN that his office has decided to issue warrants for Netanyahu, Gallant and three senior members of the Hamas terror organization, comparing Israel’s conduct during its war in Gaza following the October 7th invasion, to Hamas’ massacres of Israelis.

Gallant responded to the warrant against him Tuesday (21st), calling Khan’s behavior “despicable,” and defending Israel’s handling of the war with Hamas.

“Since October 7th, the State of Israel has been fighting against a brutal terrorist organization, Hamas – an enemy that conducted atrocities against Israeli children, women and men,” Gallant said, citing the terror group’s violation of international laws of war.

“Now, it also uses its own people as human shields.  The IDF is fighting in accordance with  international law, while taking unprecedented measures to facilitate humanitarian aid.”

Gallant emphasized that the ICC has no authority over Israel, as the Jewish state – like the United States – is not a party to the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court.

“The attempt made by the ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan to turn things around will not succeed – the parallel he has drawn between the Hamas terror organization and the State of Israel is despicable.”

“The State of Israel is not a party to the Court and does not recognize its authority.  Prosecutor Karim Khan’s attempt to deny the State of Israel the right to defend itself and ensure the release of the hostages held in Gaza, must be rejected explicitly.”

Gallant slammed the ICC decision again in a tweet, writing:

“Israel is fighting a just war against a brutal terrorist organization – Hamas.”

“Even in facing a cynical enemy, Israel abides by international humanitarian law, and maintains professional and moral standards.”

“We are fighting for the hostages.  We are fighting for our lives.  We are fighting for our future.”



U.S. Nazi War Criminal Prosecutor: Israel Is Obligated To Stop Hamas’ Genocide  – Michael Starr

• Israel and much of the world have a legal obligation under international law to stop the genocidal intent of Hamas in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre, former U.S. Justice Department Office of Special Investigations director Eli Rosenbaum said in an interview on May 15.  Rosenbaum, a veteran of 38 years in Department of Justice war crimes investigatory departments, explained that “Israel has a legal obligation under international law as a signatory of the [1948] Genocide Convention.  The treaty obligates all signatory nations not just to not commit genocide and punish it, but to prevent it.

• Hamas’ indiscriminate targeting of civilians regardless of age or gender during the pogrom, and the nature of the murders, were indicative not just of genocidal intent, but of genocidal acts, he said.  “Hamas intentionally carried out an attack that was so gruesome, so far beyond what anyone could have imagined in terms of cruelty, attacks that rivaled and even exceeded the cruelty seen at the hands of Nazi forces in World War II.  And I feel fairly well qualified to opine on that, having studied and investigated and prosecuted Nazi cases for some 40 years.”

• The accusation of genocide by Israel during the war is an “obscene falsehood,” according to Rosenbaum.  The crime of genocide requires not just an outcome of mass death over the course of war but the intent “to destroy a population in whole or in part.  It is not simply a matter of casualty numbers.”  He noted that in World War II, aerial bombing by the British Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Force “killed somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people.  No one would say that the Allies committed genocide against Germans.  That’s just absurd.  Germany started the war.”

• Rosenbaum said that Israel did not target civilians.  On the contrary, genocidal intent was disproven “because of the extensive measures they’ve taken to try to protect civilians, despite the best efforts of Hamas to maximize civilian casualties in Gaza.  Israel is taking measures to protect civilian life in Gaza that no military has ever taken in any war.  It causes Israeli casualties.”

• “In addition to the fact that the accusations are fundamentally false, I think they are also racist… The unstated assumption is that thousands of men in Gaza who took part in these attacks, for some reason, can’t be held to even minimal standards of decent and humane conduct with respect to other innocent human beings…. Every single death in Gaza of Palestinians and hostages is the doing of Hamas.  They are responsible, morally and legally, for all of those deaths.”

• Regarding calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, he said, “The Allies did not say to the Germans in January of 1945, ‘Well, this is a very destructive war, a lot of people are dying on both sides.  We’ll call it off now.  You all can stay in power in Berlin, and you can have four battalions of SS mobile killing units, and we’ll just see what happens down the road.’  The Allies had, as the Israelis have now, a moral obligation to finish the fight in the face of the supreme crime of genocide,” Rosenbaum said.



IDF Chief Of Staff Visits Southern Commanders In Jabaliya

On Tuesday (21st), the Chief of the General Staff, LTG Herzi Halevi, met with the commanders in Jabaliya who participated in the operation to rescue the bodies of four hostages and return them for burial in Israel.  The Chief of the General Staff conducted a situational assessment and tour with the Commanding Officer of the southern Command, MG Yaron Finkelman, the Commanding Officer of the 98th Division, BG Dan Goldfus, and brigade commanders.

“We are in a war that we said from the beginning would be a prolonged one.  They (Hamas) have entrenched themselves here for years in defense, and that won’t be dismantled in a week or even a month.  The mission, as the Commanding Officer of the Southern Command said, is to kill as many commanders and terrorists as possible, and to destroy the infrastructure, “ Halevi said.

He continued, “We very much want this pressure to help us to bring back hostages alive.  And we are ready to undertake dangerous and complicated operations to bring the bodies of our hostages back for burial in Israel.  This has great value, and I tell you to talk to the soldiers about these things.”

“We are disarming the military wing of Hamas.  We want to bring our hostages home alive, and we want to bring those who unfortunately, are no longer alive back for burial in Israel.  These are very, very important missions.  The message is that even if there was a place we didn’t reach last time in Jabaliya, now we are reaching it.  No place, no matter how many explosives they put in the walls and how many shafts they booby-trapped, no place will withstand an offensive by an IDF combat team,” the Chief of Staff concluded.



IDF Kills Terrorists In Rafah – Finds Numerous Weapons

During an operation in the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip, the Givati Brigade and the 162nd Division located three armed terrorists who exited from a shaft, the military said on Tuesday (21st).

The soldiers transferred the terrorists for further investigation.

In addition, the IDF stated that troops had carried out searches in a building, unearthing weapons, which included Kalashnikovs, RPG launchers, and magazines.  Furthermore, while carrying out activities in the area over the past few days, soldiers discovered tunnel shafts and killed 20 terrorists.

Later on Tuesday (21st),  the military announced that more terrorists were killed as troops advanced into different Rafah areas.  

Troops of the 932nd Battalion found weapons in a building along with explosives, and anti-tank missiles, including tools aimed at breaching fences, the IDF said.

Furthermore, Israeli forces unearthed another tunnel shaft which led to a weapons warehouse, containing short-range anti-tank missiles, weapons, explosives, and grenades destined, according to the IDF, to be used against the forces.

The military stated that both the weapons and shaft were demolished by the troops.



Housing Units Set Up To Create Temporary Kibbutz Be’eri

Dozens of trucks were seen on the roads of the Negev on Tuesday (21st) carrying housing units for the new “Temporary Kibbutz Be’eri,” which is being constructed on the grounds of Kibbutz Hatzerim, located near Beersheba.

Over the coming weeks, approximately 250 housing units and public buildings will be transported to this new neighborhood in a complex logistical operation.  These structures will temporarily house the residents of Be’eri, whose homes bore the brunt of the Hamas-led attack on October 7.  Concurrently, efforts are underway at both Kibbutz Hatzerim and Be’eri to foster connections between the communities in a familiar kibbutz setting, while preserving the unique identity of each.

The temporary Kibbutz Be’eri was designed by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, in collaboration with the Be’eri community and the Bnei Shimon Regional Council.  The goal is to provide a familiar rural living environment, akin to the original kibbutz that the Be’eri community hopes to return to soon.

The project spans around 50 acres and includes housing units ranging from 60 square meters to 120 square meters, all equipped with internal security rooms.  At the center of the temporary kibbutz, there will be a dining hall, a large lawn, and a kindergarten complex, which will start operating independently beginning with the next school year.

In recent months Kibbutz Hatzerim has been working to expand its existing infrastructure to support a 70% population increase and to provide optimal conditions for this transition.  This includes upgrades to water, electricity, and sewage, communication and shared road infrastructure.  Social preparations are also being made to foster cooperation and mutual acquaintance, including celebrating unique kibbutz traditions together.

The communal lifestyle of both kibbutzim has led the communities of Hatzerim and Be’eri to adopt a “neighboring communities” living model. This concept involves two separate communities living in close proximity and sharing many resources, thereby fostering connections within a familiar kibbutz environment while maintaining each community’s unique identity.

Gili Molcho, secretary of Kibbutz Be’eri, said the move is hopeful.  “It’s thrilling to see the future home, even if temporary, of Kibbutz Be’eri being established next to Hatzerim.  For eight months, members of Be’eri have been trying to maintain a routine life in a hotel.  The challenges have been immense, but today’s scenes from Hatzerim bring us great hope,” Molcho said.

Yigal Deutsch, manager of Kibbutz Hatzerim, said kibbutz members were ready to step up.  “This is a moment filled with emotion and hope.  The placement of the first homes in our kibbutz area marks the realization of a shared vision and months of hard work.  Throughout this project, the Hatzerim community has felt a sense of national duty and has kept our friends and partners in Be’eri in our thoughts.  We will continue to work with determination and energy to complete the resettlement process as quickly as possible and to fulfill the vision of our communities in the best possible way.”

Meanwhile, the special committee for strengthening and developing the Negev and Galilee met on Tuesday (21st) to discuss the status of the Gaza border region’s rehabilitation according to a strategic five-year-plan.  On April 17, the government approved a plan for the rehabilitation of Gaza border region communities.  This plan was developed in collaboration with the communities, local authorities, government ministries, and other professional bodies, with a budget of $5.1billion over five years.



Pro-Hamas Encampment  At Drexel University Pushes School Into Lockdown

A “”Gaza solidarity encampment” was erected suddenly at Drexel University in Philadelphia over the weekend, forcing school officials to lockdown the campus to protect it from a flood of non-students who joined the demonstration.

“This demonstration has already proved intolerably disruptive to normal university operations and has raised serious concerns about the conduct of some participants, including distressing reports and images of protesters subjecting passersby to anti-Semitic speech, signs and chants,” Drexel University President John Fry said on Sunday (19th) in a letter to the campus community.

“These kinds of hateful and intimidating acts must be condemned, and they can not and will not be tolerated.”

Fry added that “it has become increasingly apparent that most of the encampment participants are outside individuals who are unaffiliated with Drexel.”

The group responsible for the demonstration, Drexel Palestine Coalition (DPC), is demanding that the school adopt the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and “terminate” its Hillel and Chabad chapters.

DPC also wants the university’s police force to be abolished, amnesty granted to any protester charged with violating school rules, and a 60% reduction in Fry’s salary – the savings to be used for Palestinian purposes.

“Hillel continues to be grateful to have partners on campus who believe that a university experience should be filled with opportunities to engage thoroughly and thoughtfully around issues where there is deep disagreement while recognizing that a prerequisite for any such conversation is a demonstrated commitment to the safety, well being, and shared sense of belonging of all of the students, faculty and staff who call our university home,” Drexel Hillel said on Sunday (19th) in a statement issued about the encampment.

The protesters’ demands are not the first assault on Jewish organizations at Drexel University this academic year.  

In April, The Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life was vandalized, with the culprits removing large channel letters spelling out Perelman’s name from a block structure near the entrance to the building.

The disturbing act which occurred amid an explosion of anti-Semitic hate crimes across the US, was filmed by surveillance cameras, but the persons wearing masks could not be identified.

Drexel University joins the list of over 100 schools where anti-Zionists have taken over sections of campus and refused to leave unless school administrators agreed to condemn and boycott Israel.

On Monday (20th) all classes at Drexel  were conducted virtually.      

“We will continue to provide updates regarding this situation or any changes to the university’s operations,” Fry said in a letter.  “I ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we work toward ensuring that our campus can soon return to normal.”