News Digest — 6/17/24

Fighting Will Continue In Rafah Until Hamas Is Defeated There, Says IDF General

Meeting with commanders serving in Rafah on Sunday (16th), IDF Southern Command Chief Mag. Gen. Yaron Finkelman said that fighting in the southernmost city in Gaza would continue until Hamas was defeated there.

During the meeting in the city, to discuss operational achievements and developments, Finkelman referred to the deadly explosion in Rafah a day earlier in which eight troops were killed inside a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle.

“We are here after a painful incident that occurred yesterday,” Finkelman said, “we lost fighters and commanders during the attack.  These are our best sons.”

Despite the heavy losses, he added, “our imperative is to continue moving forward.  You are attacking Hamas’ Rafah Brigade, and we will continue until we defeat it.”

Finkelman concluded that now, the most important thing for the IDF to do is press on with the fighting while thoroughly investigating the incident and learning for the future.

Despite the ongoing battles, Gaza saw its first day of relative calm in months on Sunday (16th) after the IDF said it would “pause” fighting around a southern route to facilitate aid flow.

The pause “for humanitarian purposes will take place from 8 am until10 pm each day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah al-Din road and then northwards,” a military statement said.

A map released by the army showed the declared humanitarian route extending to Rafah’s European Hospital, about six miles from Kerem Shalom.  The IDF stressed in a statement that there was “no cessation of hostilities in the southern Gaza Strip.”

The military said the pause was already in effect as part of efforts to “increase the volumes of humanitarian aid” following discussion with the United Nations and other organizations.

COGAT, the Defense Ministry body which coordinates activity in the West Bank and Gaza, said in a report on Sunday (16th) that more than 1,000 aid trucks are waiting to be collected from the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, and that only 92 were collected by UN aid agencies throughout the day.

The war in Gaza broke out on October 7 with Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel in which terrorists murdered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 251 hostages.  In response, Israel launched a military offensive with the declared objectives of dismantling Hamas and bringing the hostages home. 

So far, the Israeli military said it has killed some 15,000 Hamas terrorists.



Hagari: Hezbollah Is Bringing Israel To The Brink Of Potential ‘Wider Escalation’

IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari in an English-language video statement on Sunday (16th) said Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group is “bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region.”

“The Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon has been escalating its attacks against Israel.  Since deciding to join the war that Hamas started on October 7, Hezbollah has fired over 5,000 rockets; anti-tanks missiles, and explosive UAVs from Lebanon at Israeli families, homes and communities,” he said.

“Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region,” Hagari continued.

He said Hezbollah is jeopardizing the future of Lebanon so that it can be a shield for Hamas.  A shield for the Hamas terrorists who murdered the elderly, raped women, burned children, and kidnapped Jews, Muslims and Christians, during their massacre on October 7.

“When we say that we will not let October 7 happen again on any one of our borders, we mean it,” Hagari said.

“Because of Hezbollah’s refusal to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, because of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure; weapons and fire at Israel from the area south of the Litani River in Southern Lebanon, and because of Lebanon’s failure to enforce 1701 on Hezbollah, Israel will take the necessary measures to protect its citizens, until security along our border with Lebanon is restored,” he vowed.

Hagari warned that “One way or another we will ensure the safe and secure return of Israelis to their homes in Northern Israel .  That is not up for negotiation.”

“Iran’s terror proxies continue to drag the region to destruction.  Israel will continue fighting against Iran’s axis of evil on all fronts – in Gaza, in Lebanon – as we work towards a more secure future for the Middle East,” he stated.

“October 7th cannot happen again, on any one of Israel’s borders.  Israel has a duty to defend the people of Israel.  We will fulfill that duty, at all costs,” Hagari concluded.



2/3 Of Palestinians Still Think Hamas’ Attack On Israel Was Correct Because It “Revived International Attention” To The Conflict – Dr. Khalil Shikaki

73% of Gazans and 57% of West Bank Palestinians still think Hamas’ decision to launch its offensive against Israel on Oct. 7 was correct, according to a poll conducted on May 26 – June 1, 2024, by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and Gaza.  The total for both areas was 67%. 

They saw that the attack has “revived international attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that it could lead to increased recognition of Palestinian statehood.”

76% said that, based on their personal experience, the fairness of aid distribution to displaced residents was discriminatory, while only 24% said it was fair.  63% blame Israel for the current suffering of Gazans in the war, while 22% blame the US, 8% blame Hamas, and 4% blame the PA.  97% believe Israel has committed war crimes during the current war, while only 9% think Hamas committed such crimes.

Overall, 67% expect Hamas to win the war, including 48% in Gaza and 79% in the West Bank.  25% of Gazans, but only 2% in the West Bank, expect Israel to win.  56% think Hamas will be in control of Gaza after the war, including 46% of Gazans and 62% in the West Bank.  75% of Palestinians said they were satisfied with Hamas’ performance in the current war, (82% in the West Bank and 64% in Gaza).  65% were satisfied with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar (76% in the West Bank and 50% in Gaza).

94% in the West Bank and 83% in Gaza want Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to resign.

65% oppose the idea of a two-state solution.  68% believe the chances for establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the next five years are slim or nonextant.  63% supported a return to confrontations and armed intifada, up from  55% three months ago.  (PSR-PA)



They Criticized The Entebbe Rescue Too – Dr. Rafael Medoff

UN officials and Western media have criticized Israel’s rescue of four hostages from Gaza.  But in 1976 there was criticism of Israel’s rescue of hostages from Entebbe, too.  The Organization of African Unity accused Israel of “wanton aggression” and demanded reparations for damage to the airport in Uganda.

The Soviet and Chinese governments denounced “Zionist aggression.”  UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim charged that Israel had committed a “serious violation of the sovereignty” of Uganda.

US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger informed Israel’s ambassador in Washington that because the Israelis had used US equipment in the raid,” We will have to put a temporary freeze on military shipments.”  Kissinger insisted that the US-made C-130 transport planes could not be used outside Israel’s borders “without prior consultation.”

Israel’s prime minister in those days was Yitzhak Rabin, and the government was ruled by the Labor Party – a reminder that whether its leader is named Rabin or Netanyahu, there will always be those who complain when Israel takes action to defend the lives of its citizens.

The writer is founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)



Pro-Hamas Activists Target Ted Cruz’s Home Weekly Over Israel Support

Texas Senator vows to ‘stand with Israel’ despite regular harassment ‘from antisemites ‘ demonstrating outside his home.

Anti-Israel activists have targeted Texas Senator Ted Cruz for weekly harassment over his stance on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, holding noisy demonstrations outside his home every Friday and Saturday, Cruz revealed.

In a tweet Saturday (15th), the Texas Republican shared a one-minute video clip of anti-Israel activists chanting “Free, Free Palestine” outside his home while ringing bells and waving Palestine Liberation Organization flags.

Calling the anti-Israel demonstrators “antisemites,” Cruz said he would continue to publicly back the Jewish state despite the harassment.

“For the past 6 months, anti-Israel protesters have come to my home just about every Saturday morning at 7a.m. and most Friday nights until 10 or 11 p.m.  They scream, disturb the peace, and wake the neighbors.  No matter how much these antisemites cheer Hamas, I will stand with Israel,” said Cruz.

A spokesperson for the senator reiterated his determination in a statement to Fox News, emphasizing his support for the eradication of the Hamas terror organization.

“It doesn’t matter how long this anti-Israel protest harassment continues, Senator Ted Cruz will continue to fight anti-Semitism and stand for Texas values.  He’s proud to stand with Israel as the country fights to utterly eradicate Hamas for as long as it takes,” the spokesperson said.

Fox News reported that the demonstrations have been held outside Cruz’s home 23 times since February 10, with the latest held this past Friday evening (14th).

The weekly protests have been organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization, whose national umbrella group, The National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP), praised Hamas’ invasion of Israel on Oct.7 as a “historic win for the Palestinian Resistance.”



Khamenei: ‘Renounce The Zionist Regime And Its Supporters’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saturday (15th), took to social media where he urged Hajj pilgrims to “disassociate”  from the US and Israel.

“This renunciation of the Zionist regime and its supporters, in particular the government of the United States of America, must be demonstrated in the words and actions of nations and governments, and it must impede the actions of the murderers,” he wrote in one post.

The Supreme Leader also stressed the need for the dissociation to become a worldwide movement among Muslims.

“The ironclad resistance of Palestine and the patient, oppressed people of Gaza – whose remarkable patience and resistance have earned them admiration and respect globally –  must be fully supported in every way,” Khamenei wrote.

Calling Israel a “ruthless Zionist regime” and  “the embodiment of cruelty,” Khamenei wrote that there is no room for tolerance in any individual, government, or Muslim denomination for the “tragedies in Gaza.”

“It is the duty of all of us…to stand against this evil scheme of the US and the Zionist regime,” he added.

The Iranian Supreme Leader who often threatens Israel has several times taken to social media since the start of the war in Gaza, where he has posted in Hebrew and continued to threaten the Jewish state.  Khamenei posted in Hebrew in April, after an airstrike on an Iranian compound in Damascus which killed seven Revolutionary Guards, two of them generals, and which was blamed on Israel.

“With God’s help we will make the Zionists regret their crime of aggression against the Iranian consulate in Damascus,” he wrote at the time.

Later, after Iran responded to the strike in Damascus by launching hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel, Khamenei again posted in Hebrew. 

“Holy Al-Quds will be in the hands of the Muslims, and the Muslim world will celebrate the liberation of Palestine,” he wrote in Hebrew, alongside footage of the Iranian missiles being intercepted over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

At the time, Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir responded, “Are you talking about  the same holy Al-Quds that you wanted to shell yesterday and the Israel defense array prevented you from doing so?”