In the fight for good vs. evil we carry the weight of the world.
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We are doing extremely well in our confrontation with the subhuman monsters of Hamas.
After the massacre of October 7, we said our goal was to take out Hamas — finish both its military and its governing capacity in Gaza. We brought in some 360,000 reserve troops, most stationed along the Gaza border.
From the beginning, we made it clear that a ground operation was essential to achieving our goals. But for many days, while the nation functioned in a state of extreme tension, no ground operation ensued.
There were a number of valid reasons for this delay: reserve troops required some training; sufficient bombing had to be done to soften up Hamas before the troops went in. But there was great unease because it became apparent that the US was reluctant to see us go in on the ground. Last Thursday, former national security advisor John Bolton said that “Biden has his hands around Bibi’s belt.” The US was confronting a separate problem in Syria, where American soldiers had been attacked.
Last week small groups of soldiers went into Gaza to do surveillance but then came out again. But Friday night was different. IDF soldiers went in, and stayed, in the north. On Saturday IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirmed that the ground incursion had begun: Infantry, Armored Corps and Combat Engineering Corps units had entered the Strip, supported by heavy artillery, as well as by very intense aerial bombing and attacks from naval vessels.
On Saturday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a joint press conference with Defense Minister Gallant (center below) and Benny Gantz, announced that the second stage of the war – which he called Israel’s second War of Independence – had begun:
“We always said, ‘Never Again’. Never Again’ is now.”
Indicating that the decision to begin ground operations had been made unanimously, both by the war cabinet and the security cabinet, he declared, “Our commanders and soldiers fighting in enemy territory know that the nation and the national leadership stand behind them.”
Our soldiers, he said, “…are determined to eradicate this evil from the world, for our existence and, I add — for all of humanity…Israel is fighting not only its war, but humanity’s war against the barbarians.”
He characterized the war as one of “light over darkness, life over death. This is the mission of our lives…”
We are being advised not to expect a quick operation; it will likely take months. This is as it should be – the operation is expanding slowly with care and deliberation; the biggest push is yet to come but is on its way. There is a great deal that will happen that we cannot know about. This too is as it should be.
Along with critical Hamas sites and infrastructure, we are taking out Hamas commanders. I will not detail these hits until we get the really big guys (and we will).
By Sunday, tanks had reached the beach on the Mediterranean.
Now it has been reported that the IDF is in control of the main road in Gaza City, a thoroughfare that connects the city, in the north, to Khan Younes in the south. This is a major military gain.
Additionally, tanks are on the outskirts of Gaza City.
But there are other aspects to this war, in addition to the military, that must be fought with strength and determination.
A primary focus is the PR campaign that attempts to represent Israel as the party at fault with regard to civilian suffering in Gaza – the goal of course being to increase international pressure on Israel and weaken our resolve. So let us review and clarify some very important points:
There are casualties and civilian suffering in every war. It is to be deeply regretted but it is a reality, a reality that is acknowledged within the Laws of War.
The war against Hamas is a righteous war, a war that must be fought and won because it is the goal of Hamas to destroy Israel. The Laws of War acknowledge Israel’s right to wage this war.
What the Laws of War would prohibit Israel from doing is firing directly upon civilians or firing upon Hamas in a way that causes damage to civilians that is excessive with regard to the military gain achieved (this would be a disproportionate act of war).
But Israel never fires directly upon civilians and takes the most extraordinary measures to avoid civilian damage. Israel has been warning civilians in the north to go south to avoid the attack on Hamas in Gaza City. Israel, further, has permitted humanitarian supplies to be brought in from Egypt and has opened water sources.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in Qatar along with some of the other leaders of Hamas, delivered an address on October 26 that was broadcast on Lebanese TV:
“The blood of the women, children and elderly […] we are the ones who need this blood, so it awakens within us the revolutionary spirit, so it awakens with us resolve.”
He calls upon the “free people of the world” to stop the bombing of Gaza, which he refers to as the “new holocaust.”
I note here that data on casualties from the Gaza Ministry of Health (which is Hamas) are inflated and not to be accepted as valid.
Israel has maintained that Hamas is stockpiling supplies in its tunnels with total disregard for the needs of the civilian population. Now the NY Times (hardly a pro-Israel publication) reports that this charge has been confirmed by Arab and Western officials (who choose to remain anonymous).
“Hamas has hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel, ammunition, explosives, food, water and medicine, they said.
“Yet with Gazans facing a humanitarian catastrophe, Hamas’s stockpiles raise questions about what responsibility, if any, it has to the civilian population.”
According to Samir Ghattas, an Egyptian strategic analyst, “The Hamas movement cares only about the Hamas movement. The public of Gaza mean absolutely nothing for Hamas.”
It has been confirmed that Hamas headquarters with a command-and-control center are located within and beneath Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Gaza’s largest hospital. See a briefing by IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari, with a diagram included:
“Hamas terrorists operate inside and under Shifa Hospital and other hospitals in Gaza with a network of terror tunnels.”
Hamas counts on Israeli reluctance to bomb a hospital. We will not, although I suspect that the Law of War might permit it. We will get them in other ways.
While I am not suggesting, would never remotely suggest, that the Biden administration is siding with Hamas, there have been statements from American officials that suggest – unreasonably – that Israel should be doing more for the civilians.
On Sunday, Biden held a phone call with Netanyahu. According to the readout of the call:
“The President reiterated that Israel has every right and responsibility to defend its citizens from terrorism and underscored the need to do so in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians.” (Emphasis added)
The unspoken implication here is that perhaps we are not doing enough. And I ask, What the hell does he want from us? How about congratulating us for how careful we are and all we are doing?
It is time to look at the moral failures of other nations. The UN passed a resolution, sponsored by Jordan, calling for an immediate ceasefire; it did not even mention the atrocities of Hamas. Only 14 nations, out of almost 180 voting, opposed it. This was beyond shameful. Not surprising, I suppose, given the history of the UN on Israel. But in the face of the Hamas massacre??
Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová called for her nation to withdraw from the UN because of this.
While, unfortunately, it is not going to happen (because the Czech prime minister is not keen on this), she has shown us that there are still leaders in the international community with a moral compass. Her moral indignation spotlights the moral deficiency of the vast majority of the members of the UN.
And what about Egypt, which refuses to open the Rafah Gate to allow refugees to enter the Sinai to be out of harm’s way? Bottom line is that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi does not want to get stuck with them, and is afraid of the entry of jihadists.
But does he not have a moral obligation here?
There are always refugees in a war, and it is routine for neighboring countries to accommodate at least some of them. Is that not what Poland and other countries have done with Ukrainian refugees? Is it not time to focus on Egypt rather than Israel, and put extensive international pressure on Sisi to allow refugees in? A tent city might be established for them, which would be temporary. International efforts might be expended to find homes for them in other Arab countries. If there were sincere good will, Egypt could serve as a conduit for refugees who would move on to new homes.
But on October 15, Sisi had declared that Israel’s activity in Gaza had “exceeded” its right to self-defense and had become collective punishment. And there it sits.
One of the major goals of current Israeli efforts is bringing home the 200 plus Israeli hostages being held by Hamas.
Something of a military miracle happened Sunday night when the IDF, working with the Shin Bet, rescued one hostage: IDF Corporal Ori Megidish. She has been reunited with family.
We don’t know how they accomplished this, but they did. It was a rescue. Do not believe reports that Hamas simply released her.
There is talk of a trade: release of hostages by Hamas in return for the release of thousands of terrorists in Israeli prisons. It is not going to happen. First, because we simply will not do that.
Netanyahu made the point that Hamas is most likely to release hostages when it is feeling pressure. It is no accident, he said that this rescue was accomplished after the ground operation began. “Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza creates the possibility to free the hostages.”
Just as we are not about to release all terror prisoners, neither are we about to agree to a ceasefire.
Netanyahu made it clear that this would constitute a surrender to Hamas. “Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas.” He added that the current conflict involves more than just Israel and Hamas: “The future of civilization is at stake.”
“The Bible says there is a time for peace and a time for war. This is a time for war.”
Two soldiers were killed in the north of Gaza today (Tuesday): Roei Wolf from Ramat Gan (right) and Lavi Lipshitz from Modi’in. Both aged 20, they were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. They were participating in an action as part of a Givati patrol unit.
ZAKA is an incredible volunteer organization. All its members are medics who go into the field to provide aid to the wounded. They also retrieve dead bodies, adhering to the highest Jewish standards of respect for the dead, and give them proper burials.
UNITED HATZALAH, also a volunteer organization, works on the front lines and on sites where Hamas has attacked to provide relief and medical aid. They need equipment for providing the aid — oxygen tanks, defibrillators, trauma bandages, and tourniquets, etc. – and they need protective equipment such as helmets for their volunteers.
COLEL CHABAD is part of Israel’s emergency response team. They are responsible for delivering tens of thousands of cooked meals to frightened families in shelters.
More to follow.
Pray for Israel, my friends, and speak out about her rights at every turn!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.