News Digest — 6/11/24

Yahya Sinwar On Gaza Civilian Casualties: ‘Necessary Sacrifices’

The Wall Street Journal, on Monday night (10th) revealed condemning correspondence between Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and his closest associates in the terror organization.

Sinwar has for months refused to agree to a hostage-prisoner deal that does not include a complete end to the war and a withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza, two conditions which would leave Hamas in power and able to regroup, and which would allow the terror group to fulfill its promise of carrying out repeat “October 7th” massacres in the future.

Behind his refusal, WSJ noted, “Is a calculation that more fighting – and more Palestinian deaths  – work to his advantage.”

The site noted that “in dozens of messages” Sinwar has shown a cold disregard for human life and made clear he believes Israel has more to lose from the war than Hamas.”  The messages were shared by multiple people with differing views of Sinwar.

In a recent message to Hamas officials seeking to broker a prisoner swap agreement, Sinwar wrote, “We have the Israelis right where we want them.”

In another message to Hamas leaders in Doha, Sinwar described civilian deaths in Gaza as “necessary sacrifices.”

Regarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he claimed – back in 2018 – “a victory would be even worse than a defeat.”  He also said that, “We make the headlines only with blood.  No blood, no news.” 

Sinwar also promised his underlings that Israel’s journey in Rafah won’t be a walk in the park.” 

In an April 11 letter to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, following the death of three of Haniyeh’s sons, Sinwar wrote that those deaths and others “infuse life into the veins of this nation, prompting it to rise to its glory and honor.”

Sinwar’s “ultimate goal appears to be to win a permanent ceasefire that allows Hamas to declare a historic victory by outlasting Israel and claim leadership of the Palestinian national cause,” WSJ added.  “Even without a lasting truce, Sinwar believes Netanyahu has few options other than occupying Gaza and getting bogged down fighting a Hamas-led insurgency for months or years.”

WSJ also noted that according to Arab officials who spoke to Hamas, by November, Hamas’ political leadership began to distance itself from Sinwar, claiming that he did not inform them ahead of the October 7 attacks.  And in early December, those political leaders began meeting other Palestinian Arab factions to discuss a post-war plan – but Sinwar was not consulted.  Afterwards, he called those talks “shameful and outrageous,” stressing, “As long as fighters are still standing and we have not lost the war, such contacts should be immediately terminated.  We have the capabilities to continue fighting for months.”

Sinwar urged his comrades in Hamas’ political echelon not to make concessions in negotiations for a deal, and instead to insist on ending the war, so as to place pressure on Israel.  He promised that Hamas’ military wing was ready for the Rafah conflict, adding that,” Israel’s journey in Rafah won’t be a walk in the park.”

Sinwar, himself, meanwhile, is willing to die fighting, comparing the war in Gaza to the war in which Mohammed was killed.  “We have to move forward on the same path we started.  Or let it be a new Karbala.”



IAF Says Over 150 Enemy Drones Intercepted During War; Detecting Them A Challenge

Amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and fighting on the Lebanon border, the Israeli Air Force has downed more than 150 drones using ground-based systems, such as the Iron Dome, according to new data published by the military on Monday (10th).

Many more drones were downed by fighter jets, according to the Air Force.

Drone attacks have been largely carried out from Lebanon.  Several have been launched from Gaza, and there have also been numerous drones launched by Iran-backed groups in Iran, Syria and Yemen.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah in recent months has increasingly been using explosive-laden drones, alongside anti-tank guided missiles and barrages of rockets.

The terror group’s near-daily explosive-laden drone attacks from Lebanon recently have been one of the IAF Aerial Defense Array’s most significant challenges during the war.  In numerous cases, the IAF has been challenged to detect the threat in time to intercept it, leading to casualties.

Hezbollah’s drones have largely targeted army positions or Israeli communities on the border, with a handful of incidents of drones being launched much farther, even up to 40 kilometers deep into Israel.

While being able to detect drones accurately is important, it is also a complicated part of thwarting the threat, IAF officials said.

The Aerial Defense Array uses a wide range of sensors to detect what it calls “suspicious aerial targets” heading into Israeli airspace.  Repeatedly, with Israeli radars set to high sensitivity, many such targets were later determined to have been “false identifications” – often birds.

At times, Hezbollah drones are not always identified by the IAF until it is far too late to intercept them.

The topography on the Lebanon border, with many ridges and hills, can potentially be a challenge for Israeli radar as drones fly through.  This, combined with the often very short flight paths, makes it difficult for the IAF to respond in time to an attack when it does detect a drone.

In contrast, during Iran’s attack on Israel April 14, the IAF and its allies were able to detect hundreds of Iranian drones heading toward Israel hours in advance, preventing any of them from entering Israeli airspace. 

During the attack, Israel’s air defense array was put to its largest-ever test with the launch of hundreds of missiles and drones from Iran, almost all of which were downed with the help of the US, Jordan, the UK and France.

The IAF said that nothing in the Aerial Defense Array is automatic, and its soldiers carry out every identification and launch of an interceptor manually.  This is to prevent an accidental interception of a “friendly” aircraft, as well as to conserve interceptors in cases of false identifications.

According to recent IAF assessments seen by the Times of Israel, Hezbollah has been attempting to harm Israel’s air defenses amid the fighting, and would especially work to target the Aerial Defense Array’s systems in an all-out-war.

Last week, Hezbollah published a video showing it striking with a guided missile what it claimed was  an Iron Dome Launcher in northern Israel.

In a war, Hezbollah is likely to launch swarms of drones, rather than two or three at a time as it currently does, in what could become a major challenge, according to IAF assessments.

As part of the IAF’s moves to counter the Hezbollah drone threat, it established several new Iron Dome batteries, as well as forming a new battalion to operate the short-range air defense system.

The Iron Dome is the lowest layer of Israel’s multi-tiered air defense system, and it has downed tens of thousands of rockets, mortars, and drones launched at Israel since 2011.

The newly established 139th Battalion is Israel’s third Iron Dome battalion, after the 137th and 947th.  The Israeli Navy also has a version of the Iron Dome aboard its four Sa’ar- 6 class corvettes.

The IAF has also moved to shutter its aging Patriot missile defense systems, which were designed to shoot down aircraft and not small drones.

The middle tier of Israel’s air defense array is the David’s Sling system, which is designed to shoot down medium-range projectiles.  The longest-range system is the Arrow, designed to intercept large ballistic missiles.

The military said Monday (10th) that more than 19,000 unguided rockets have been launched at Israel since the start of the war in October.

The projectiles were mostly fired from the Gaza Strip, although the portion of rocket attacks from Lebanon has been steadily growing in recent months.

Thousands of those rockets have been intercepted by air defenses.

The tally only includes projectiles that crossed into Israeli territory.  Israel has previously said hundreds or even more rockets launched from Gaza misfired and landed inside the Strip.  Many Hezbollah rockets have also fallen short in Lebanon.

It also doesn’t include scores of guided anti-tank missiles fired across the Israel-lebanon border.

Since the day after Hamas’ October 7 attack, Hezbollah-led forces have targeted 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.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 IDF soldiers and reservists.

Hezbollah has named 334 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria.  In Lebanon another 62 operatives from other terror groups have also been killed, including a Lebanese soldier.



No One Left Behind: Soldiers Carry Comrade Wounded In War To Training Graduation

Corporal Noam, injured in both legs in Gaza combat, credits squad mates for helping him ascend Masada where his training course graduation ceremony took place, ‘I climbed in my own way,’ he said.

Corporal Noam, 20, a soldier in the Nahal Brigade who was injured in both legs during clashes in Gaza, attended his training course graduation in a wheelchair, with his comrades helping him ascend Masada, where the ceremony took place. 

Corporal Noam got married at the beginning of the war in Gaza and immediately left for combat in the Hamas-ruled enclave, where he was wounded in combat in Gaza City’s Zeitoun district.  “It happened on the day five soldiers  from the Nahal Brigade’s 931st Battalion were killed,” he recalled.

“A few hours later, snipers fired at my unit, and then an anti-tank missile was fired at us.  I remember the next moment, trying to dodge and release myself, and at that time my legs were hurting –  but I still didn’t think I was injured.”

“After about 20 seconds, I looked down at my legs and saw blood,” he added.  “I applied a tourniquet with the help of a friend and was then led to a safe area where a helicopter could land.  While being evacuated on a stretcher, I kept thinking, ‘I’m on my way to see my wife and feel her big hug.’  That’s what gave me strength.”

“There are ricochets in my left leg, and I can’t feel it: the bullet fragment, miraculously, stopped at the artery.  There’s a bullet or a fragment of it in my right leg that came about a centimeter from the bone and, miraculously, didn’t hit it.  The doctors say I’ll be able to walk with a lot of work and rehabilitation,” he shared about his recovery, saying, “my wife is with me at all times.  I hope to recover soon, and I want to walk again and return to fighting.  Right now, I’m focused on recovering.”

Corporal Noam wished to join his brothers in arms for the traditional IDF training graduation ceremony at Masada, an ancient fortress perched on top of a 1,500-foot-tall rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, and receive his unit beret and recite the IDF oath. 

Despite having the option to take a cable car to the summit, Noam opted for the traditional 1.6-mile hike up the mountain despite his injuries.  His comrades volunteered to carry him in a wheelchair up to the fortress, a symbol of Jewish resistance during the First Jewish-Roman War.

“When we thought how I could get there, all of the officers said there was no way to scale the mountain because it’s a steep climb, and tough to make with injured legs,” he said.

“My father, my wife and I decided not to give up; we’d get there and find a solution.  Six graduates of the unit held me from all sides, and we climbed slowly.  I saw my friends below.  It was heart-wrenching, but it was also great to see them climb with such ease.”

“It was powerful,” he concluded.  “I didn’t think my training course would end this way.  You give all you have during it, and I was sure I’d be one of the climbers.  Ultimately, I climbed too, in my own way.”



Hamas, Hezbollah Flags Flown At Rally Outside Nova Massacre NYC Exhibit

The flags of Hamas and other terrorist organizations were flown by anti-Israel protesters outside the Nova Massacre exhibit in New York City on Monday (10th), according to footage published by organizers.

The flags of Hamas’ Izz al-Din Qassam Brigade, Hezbollah, and alleged Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, subsidiary Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, and Within Our Lifetime, were unfurled, and protest organizer Nerdeen Kiswani described the massacre exhibit as “nothing more than Zionist propaganda.”

“Zionists decided to rave next to a concentration camp; that’s exactly what this music festival was, like having a rave next to the gas chambers during the Holocaust,” Kiswani said in a video published by NGO Stop Anti-Semitism.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said that he condemned the “repulsive, vile” targeting of the exhibition.

“The Nova Music Festival Exhibition is a moving, heart-wrenching remembrance of the October 7 massacre,” Levine said on X.  “It offers a message of tolerance and hope.”

As participants marched through Wall Street with the Hezbollah and Al-Qassam flags in plain view, one sign could be seen in a WOL video that said, “Zionists are not Jews, and not humans.”

The protest was part of a “citywide day of rage for Gaza,” organized by WOL, in which participants were encouraged to engage in protests before dispersing into autonomous groups to rally against “cultural institutions invested in genocide” such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Before marching to Wall Street, where the exhibit was held, demonstrators rallied at Union Square.  The Hezbollah and PFLP’s flags were prominently displayed at the protest with the Hezbollah flag holders wearing Hamas headbands.

According to Freedom News, protesters unfurled a banner with the Samidoun logo that read, “Long Live October 7.”



US Jews Back Israel’s War On Hamas, Fear Surging Anti-Semitism

The majority of American Jews are concerned about growing anti-Semitism in the US and support Israel in its war against the Hamas terror group, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 Jewish adults, found that the community had been rocked by the October 7 terror onslaught in Israel and the subsequent spike in anti-Semitism in the US.

There is a consensus among American Jews that the Hamas massacres have ushered in a new, more dangerous era, with 87% saying that they believe anti-Semitism has worsened since the attacks.

42% of American Jews said they felt unsafe wearing Jewish symbols, such as Star of David necklaces and kippot (yarmulkes) in public.  An additional 27% said they chose to hide or not reveal their Jewish identity when meeting new people.

Startlingly, seven percent of American Jews said they were seriously weighing leaving the country due to the threat of increasing anti-Semitism.

Seven percent looks like a small number, but in fact, for Jews who have looked to America as a haven of safety and prosperity, this number is actually quite striking,” said Alexandra Herzog, AJC’s deputy director of contemporary Jewish life, in a media statement.

Notably 85% of American Jews said they agree with Israel’s war against the Hamas terror group and believe it is “important” for Washington to support the Jewish State in its military operation.

This statistic disproves a false narrative often promoted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators that a significant number of  anti-Israel protestors are Jewish.

The October 7th attacks also strengthened American Jews’ connection to their heritage.  Following the massacres, some 57% of those surveyed said they felt more connected to Israel and their Jewish identity, while just 4 percent said they felt less connected.