News Digest — 6/7/24

Date Set: Netanyahu To Address U.S. Congress On July 24

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, July 24, House Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Thursday (6th).

“The bipartisan, bicameral meeting symbolizes the US and Israel’s enduring relationship and will offer Prime Minister Netanyahu the opportunity to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending their democracy, combating terror, and establishing just and lasting peace in the region.” they said in a statement announcing the speech.

Netanyahu’s response was, “I am very moved to have the privilege of presenting Israel before both Houses of Congress and to present the truth about our just war against those who seek to destroy us to the representatives of the American people and the entire world.”

It was reported earlier this week that Netanyahu would speak on Thursday June 13, but that won’t take place due to it being the second day of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

Netanyahu was officially invited last Friday (5/31) to deliver the address to Congress.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R.-LA) sent Netanyahu a formal invitation to speak during a joint meeting of Congress, and the invitation featured the signatures of all four Congressional leaders: Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

“We join the State of Israel in its struggle against terror, especially as Hamas continues to hold American and Israeli citizens captive and its leaders jeopardize regional stability,” the letter reads.  “For this reason, on behalf of the bipartisan leadership of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, we would like to invite you to address a joint Meeting of Congress.”

The formal invitation to Netanyahu came a week after Johnson said at an event in Washington that Schumer had agreed to invite Netanyahu to address the congress.

Netanyahu previously spoke before Congress in March of 2015.



IDF Soldier Killed By Terrorists Trying To Infiltrate Israel From South Gaza

An Israeli soldier was killed while battling Hamas terrorists who attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip early Thursday morning (6th), the military said.

The soldier slain in the border clash was named as Warrant Officer Zeed Mazarib, 34, a tracker in the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, from the northern Bedouin-majority city of Zarzir.

The attempted infiltration began at around 4am when soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras spotted suspicious movement amid foggy weather, according to an initial IDF probe.

Troops of the Desert Reconnaissance Battalion – a unit under the Gaza Division’s  Southern Brigade, mostly made up of Bedouin soldiers – were dispatched to the scene inside Gaza, just across from the Israeli border communities of Kerem Shalom and Holit, to search for the suspects.

At about 5am the soldiers came under fire by the cell, around 400 meters from the Israeli border.  The soldiers returned fire at the terrorists and in the exchange, Mazarib was killed.

Moments later, two of the Hamas gunmen were killed in a drone strike, and a short time after that, a third was killed by tank shelling, the IDF said.

The cell was armed with assault rifles and RPGs according to the probe.  Hamas later claimed responsibility for the attempted infiltration.  

IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Gagari in a press conference Thursday evening (6th) said the Hamas cell had initially emerged from a tunnel shaft some 200 meters from the border.  He also said that a fourth member of the cell fled the scene.

The IDF said no suspects crossed the security barrier into Israel amid the incident.

The incident was one of the few attempted infiltrations into Israel amid the war in the Gaza Strip, which began on October 7 with some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists bursting into southern Israel, carrying out a murderous rampage of unprecedented intensity and breadth.

The attack claimed the lives of some 1,200 people in Israel, with another 251 people kidnapped and much of the area devastated.  Most victims were civilians.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas and freeing the hostages, 120 of whom still remain in captivity.



IDF Spokesman: Strike On UN School A ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari Thursday evening (6th) revealed the identities of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists who were killed in an IAF airstrike on an UNRWA school in Nuseirat on Wednesday night (5th).

“Overnight the IDF conducted a precise, intelligence-based strike targeting dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists hiding inside a UN school in Gaza.  Some of these terrorists participated in the Hamas Massacre of October 7.  I will soon reveal the identities of some of the terrorists we eliminated,” Hagari said.

“The terrorists were operating from a UN school.  They were planning and conducting attacks from inside classrooms of an UNRWA school.  Our precise strike was based on concrete intelligence, from multiple sources.  The terrorists inside this school were planning more attacks against Israelis, some of them imminent.  We stopped a ticking time-bomb.  This is what it was,” he declared.

Hagari explained, “Our intelligence indicated that the terrorists were operating from inside three classrooms.  Three classrooms.  We delayed our strike twice, because we identified civilians in the area.  We had aerial surveillance that had been monitoring the Hamas compound for a few days.  We conducted the strike once our intelligence and surveillance indicated that there were no women or children inside the Hamas compound, inside those classrooms.  Despite the complex operational conditions, our Air Force used precision munitions to target the three specific classrooms where the terrorists were hiding.”

He presented a graphic showing the faces and names of the terrorists “who we eliminated before they could carry out more attacks against Israelis.”

He said, “Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists included some from the Nukhba.  Terrorists with blood on their hands.  These are only a few of the terrorists we eliminated.  There are more.  Some of them took part in the brutal massacre of October 7th.  We are working to verify the information before we share it,” he said.

Hagari noted, “This is the fifth time we have had to target Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists operating from inside UNRWA facilities.  I want to repeat it – the fifth time we are operating against Hamas, that is using UNRWA facilities, in the last month alone.  Hamas wages war from schools and hospitals.  Hamas hopes that international law and public sympathy will provide a shield for their military activities, which is why they systematically operate from schools, UN facilities, hospitals and mosques.”

“Sadly, we saw some media outlets fall for Hamas’ tactics yet again, before checking the facts.  While Hamas abuses international law the IDF will continue operating according to international law.  The systematic abuse of UN facilities is a war crime, and it must be stopped by the world.”

“We will continue to do everything in our power to bring our hostages back home and defeat Hamas.  As we fulfill this mission we will continue exposing the true face of Hamas to the world,” Hagari concluded.



Why The Son Of Hamas Co-Founder Stands Firmly With Israel – EDITORIAL

The recent statements by Mosab Hassan Yousef at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference earlier this week have reverberated far beyond the conference hall.

The son of Hamas co-founder Sheik Hassan Yousef, and his bold assertions about the existential threats facing Israel from both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA), challenge common perceptions and demand a deeper examination of the realities on the ground.

Yousef, known as “the Green Prince,” was once deeply embedded in the very organization that seeks Israel’s destruction, but now stands as a vocal critic of the Palestinian leadership and its objectives.  His journey from a key figure within Hamas to an advocate for Israel’s security underscores a narrative that is both complex and revealing.

His assertion that “Palestine depends on the destruction of Israel” is a stark reminder of the zero-sum perspective held by many within the Palestinian leadership.

This viewpoint suggests that any conception of a Palestinian state inherently negates the existence of Israel.  Such a stance complicates peace efforts and fuels the ongoing conflict.

It is essential to confront this ideology head-on, acknowledging that the rhetoric of destruction from groups like Hamas is not merely political posturing but a core tenet of their existence.

Yousef’s criticism of the Palestinian Authority as an even more significant threat than Hamas is particularly noteworthy.

While Hamas is recognized for its military operations, the PA is often perceived as a more moderate entity engaged in diplomatic efforts for a two-state solution.  Yousef challenges this perception, however, arguing that the authority’s political machinations and propaganda are equally, if not more, dangerous.  By funding global advocacy against Israel and perpetuating anti-Israel sentiment, the PA actively undermines the possibility of peaceful coexistence.

The historical context Yousef provides is crucial.  The long history of Jewish persecution by Muslims, which he claims has persisted for approximately 14 centuries, cannot be ignored.  This historical animosity along with contemporary political conflicts create a volatile environment where peace remains elusive.  Acknowledging this deep-seated enmity is vital for understanding the broader dynamics at play.

Moreover, Yousef’s condemnation of anti-Jewish ideology within Islam is a bold and necessary discourse.  The propagation of hatred toward Jews, embedded in some interpretations of Islamic teachings, continues to be a significant barrier to peace.  Yousef argues that confronting this ideology is not only crucial for Israel’s security but also for global stability.  His call to “fight Islam” should be interpreted as a call to challenge and reform these destructive ideologies rather than a condemnation of Islam as a whole.

Yousef’s proposed solutions, while unconventional, merit consideration.  His suggestion that Arabs should be integrated into the IDF and take on responsibilities in the West Bank reflects a pragmatic approach to governance and security.

Additionally, his advocacy for mandatory Holocaust education across the Arab world highlights the importance of historical awareness and empathy in bridging divides.  Teaching the atrocities of the Holocaust could foster a greater understanding of Jewish history and suffering, potentially mitigating anti-Semitic sentiments.

However, Yousef is unequivocal in his stance against a Palestinian state under PA control, arguing that it would spell the end of Israel.  The incremental demands of the authority, as he describes them, suggest the insatiable desire for more territory, ultimately threatening Israel’s very existence.  This perspective challenges the viability of the two-state solution, urging policymakers to reconsider the frameworks within which peace is pursued.

In light of Yousef’s insights, the international community must reassess its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Blindly supporting a two-state solution without addressing the underlying existential threats posed by both Hamas and the PA is not only naive but dangerous.  Instead, a more nuanced approach is essential, one that considers the complex realities on the ground and seeks to dismantle the ideologies fueling the conflict.

Yousef’s message is a clarion call for clarity and action.  As he rightly pointed out, ignoring these threats only postpones an inevitable confrontation.

By addressing the root causes of the conflict, challenging destructive ideologies and fostering historical understanding, there is hope for peace.  The path to such a future is fraught with challenges, but it is a journey that must begin with honesty, courage, and a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths.



How Israel Renewed Gaza’s Water Supply Amid War – Aviv Lavie

Even before October 7, the Gaza water network was in a fragile state and the population suffered from chronic shortages.  Direct contacts between Israelis and Palestinian professionals in Gaza took place early in the war to ensure the renewal of the water supply from Israel to Gaza.

In recent years, Israel has pumped 20 million cubic meters of water per year into Gaza using three pipes.  The northern pumping facility, near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, was rendered inoperative after being damaged in the Oct. 7 attack.

Gloria Shaham, former chairman of Israel’s Water Authority, said that to repair damaged pipelines inside Gaza, the Defense Ministry’s “COGAT [unit] led a major coordination effort, and in the end Palestinian workers were sent to the places where the pipes were damaged near the fence, and repaired them under heavy IDF security.  These were Palestinians who were using heavy machinery and welding tools near the fence.”  The IDF troops “formed a ring around them to make it clear that this was a partner, not an enemy.”

“After hearing the prosecutor in The Hague talk about ‘deliberate water deprivation,’ it is important for me to say that the Israeli side made great efforts to replenish the water supply to Gaza by repairing the pipeline on our side and by helping the Palestinians fix their side.”

A source in the Israeli water market said, “When they tried to renew the flow from the Israeli side, every time they activated the stream the pipes on the other side burst from the pressure.  There were lots of attempts to fix it.  After turning it on and off maybe two hundred times, it somehow worked in the end.”



Jews Are Not Colonialist Invaders Of The Land Of Israel – Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg

The Jews are not colonialist invaders of the Land of Israel.  This land was the home of the earliest tribes of Israel dating back to the 13th century BCE.  The major books of the Bible were written by Jews in the Land of Israel or nearby nations to which Jews were exiled.  Despite the exile of Jews inflicted by the Roman Empire, there was never a time when some Jews did not live in the land – usually as second-class, often-mistreated inhabitants.

The name “Palestine” was imposed by the Romans on the area to erase the Jewish historical presence in the land.  Jesus was not a Palestinian.  He died as a Jew in Judea.  Muslim Arabs did not live in the area until it was conquered by Arab armies a century after the birth of Islam in the seventh century, almost 2,000 years after the first Jews moved into the area.

The Jews are the indigenous people in the Holy Land.  It is an incontrovertible historical reality that there had been a Jewish Holy Temple on Mount Moriah for hundreds of years, long before the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine were built there in the Middle Ages.

There is some evidence that most of the Arab population in Israel and the West Bank moved to the area in the 18th and 19th centuries, many of them attracted by the rising economy generated by the Zionist settlements.  Palestinian nationalism did not emerge until the second half of the 20th century.

More than 50% of Israeli Jews are Sephardim – Jews who lived in the Middle East for millennia before they were driven out by the newly independent Arab nations such as Iraq, Syria, Alegria, Libya, etc.  They are indigenous people and have no home countries to which to return.  Their skin hues are pretty much the same as the Arabs.

The writer is president of the J.J. Greenberg Institute for the Advancement of Jewish Life, and a senior scholar-in-residence at the Hadar Institute.