June 11, 2024
In-Depth Issues:

Video: The Rescue of Three Hostages in Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Police published body camera footage of its Counterterrorism Unit rescuing three Gaza hostages on Saturday.

Israelis Cheer the Liberation of Hostages - Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs (Free Press)
    On midday Saturday in Tel Aviv, my husband and I were sitting on the beach with our 2-year-old son when the lifeguard's voice came over the loudspeaker.
    "Attention, citizens of Tel Aviv! We are thrilled to announce that four hostages have been rescued by the Israel Defense Forces alive! Noa Argamani, Andrey Kozlov, Almog Meir Jan, and Shlomi Ziv! Am Yisrael Chai!"
    The cheers were immediate and ecstatic. People threw their children into the air. Strangers hugged strangers. Many openly wept. The clapping and singing and dancing spread all the way down the beach.
    Because it was Saturday, secular Israelis posted handwritten notes with the names of the rescued hostages around religious neighborhoods to update their neighbors who observe the Sabbath and wouldn't have been checking their phones or watching TV.
    News anchors broke down in tears. Neighbors shouted out of their windows to announce the news to passersby. In the towns where they lived, groups gathered around their homes with flags, waiting to welcome their neighbors home after eight months in captivity.
    Pundits on CNN talked about the "released" hostages. But they were not released. They were liberated. They were saved in a daring daylight operation.
    Around the world we are condemned for a war we did not start and did not seek. Even the rescue mission is spun in the press as Israeli overreaction.
    If there is one thing we are certain of, it is this: we live in a country of heroes. We live in a country in which strangers feel like family.
    A country in which other men and women will sacrifice their lives to liberate us, to bring us home.

Pride and Joy at Israel's Hostage Rescue Operation - Keren David (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    When the news broke of the daring rescue of four Israeli hostages, I felt as though members of my family had been freed.
    I felt joy and pride and relief, and sorrow too - for the families of the hostages who are still held, for the families of the hostages already killed by Hamas in captivity, for those killed on Oct. 7 by the brutal terrorists who started this conflict.
    But looking at the news, you might think that Israel had planned the whole thing in order to kill as many Palestinians as possible, while Hamas quietly released the hostages as a noble, humanitarian act.

Survey: American Jews Are Deeply - and Increasingly - Connected to Israel (American Jewish Committee)
    AJC's 2024 Survey of American Jewish Opinion, conducted on March 12-April 6, 2024, found that 85% of U.S. Jews think it's important for the U.S. to support Israel in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Oct. 7.
    57% of respondents said they felt more connected to Israel or their Jewish identity after Oct. 7.
    Following Hamas's attack, 87% of American Jews think that antisemitism has increased in the U.S., with 55% saying it has increased a lot.
    64% of American Jews reported that the Oct. 7 event affected their relationships here at home.
    53% avoided talking about the Israel-Hamas war with other people.
    12% ended a friendship or relationship with a person because they expressed antisemitic views.
    When meeting someone new, 27% of U.S. Jews hid their Jewish identity or chose not to disclose it.

Gaza Chief Sinwar Is Confident that Hamas Can Outlast Israel - Summer Said (Wall Street Journal)
    For months, Yahya Sinwar has resisted pressure to cut a ceasefire-and-hostages deal with Israel.
    "We have the Israelis right where we want them," Sinwar said in a recent message to Hamas officials seeking to broker an agreement with Qatari and Egyptian officials.
    In dozens of messages - reviewed by the Wall Street Journal - that Sinwar has transmitted to ceasefire negotiators and Hamas compatriots outside Gaza, he has made clear that he believes Israel has more to lose from the war than Hamas.
    In one message to Hamas leaders in Doha, Sinwar cited civilian losses in the national-liberation conflict in Algeria, where hundreds of thousands of people died fighting for independence from France, saying, "these are necessary sacrifices."
    His 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.

Erdogan Says Israel Wants to Attack Turkey - Simon A. Waldman (Ha'aretz)
    Turkish President Erdogan recently told a meeting of his party that "Hamas and the Palestinian people are not only defending their own lands. They are also defending Anatolia," the heartland of the Turkish state.
    "Hamas is the first line of defense of Anatolia." If Israel is not stopped, "this rogue and terrorist state will set its sights on Anatolia sooner or later."

Rafah's Jewish Past  (Jerusalem Post)
    Jewish presence in Rafah dates back to the Hasmonean era (167-63 BCE) when King Yannai Alexander of Judea conquered the town, which remained under Jewish control until the Roman general Pompey the Great captured it in 63 BCE.
    The period of 600-1050 CE saw a flourishing Jewish community in Rafah, particularly prominent in the 9th and 10th centuries, and the community experienced a resurgence in the 12th century.
    During the medieval period, the Jewish community in Rafah was part of a broader network of Jewish communities in the region. Historical records from the Cairo Geniza, a trove of Jewish manuscript fragments, provide evidence of correspondence and legal disputes involving the Jewish community in Rafah.
    In the early 20th century, Zionist groups and the Jewish community in the Land of Israel attempted to settle in Rafah, highlighting the enduring connection of Jews to the region.
    During the British Mandate period, Jewish leaders and community members were confined in British detention camps in Rafah.

We wish our readers a Happy Shavuot holiday!

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Doctor Treating Rescued Israeli Hostages Says They Were Beaten while in Captivity - Paula Hancocks
    The doctor in charge of medical treatment for the four Israeli hostages rescued Saturday said they were beaten while in Hamas captivity in Gaza. "It was a harsh, harsh experience, with a lot of abuse, almost every day," said Dr. Itai Pessach of Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv. "Every hour, both physical, mental, and other types, and that is something that is beyond comprehension."
        He said the eight months spent in captivity "left a significant mark on their health" and they are all malnourished. "They had no protein, so their muscles are extremely wasted; there is damage to some other systems because of that....There have been periods where they got almost no food whatsoever."  (CNN)
        See also Hamas Told to Kill Hostages If IDF Approaches - Julian E. Barnes
    Hamas leaders have given standing orders to its fighters holding hostages that if they think Israeli forces are coming, the first thing they should do is shoot the captives, according to Israeli officials. (New York Times)
  • U.S.: Hamas Is the Only Obstacle to Securing a Gaza Ceasefire - John Hudson
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged world leaders to pressure Hamas to accept a ceasefire deal. "If you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say yes," Blinken said in Cairo. He said Hamas is the only obstacle to securing an agreement and that the "ball is in Hamas's court."  (Washington Post)
  • UN Security Council Adopts Gaza Ceasefire Resolution - Karen DeYoung
    The UN Security Council approved, 14-0, a U.S.-sponsored resolution Monday to support an American-backed ceasefire plan for Gaza. Russia abstained.
        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly objected to certain elements of the plan, including the staging of a withdrawal of forces and of hostage releases, a future in which Israel has no security control over Gaza, and a two-state solution.
        Israel, which is not a council member but attended the meeting, noted that in recent months "this council has adopted three resolutions calling for the release of hostages. And each time Hamas has utterly ignored your request. Hamas does not care what the council has to say because they have never been held responsible for the crimes by the council."
        Israeli representative Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly noted that the four recently freed Israeli hostages were found in civilian-occupied apartments under Hamas guard, meaning that "these so-called innocent civilians" were "not uninvolved." "Israel will not engage in meaningless and endless negotiations, which can be exploited by Hamas as a means to stall for time," she added. (Washington Post)
  • Three Israeli Experts Say London Times Belittled Hamas Rapes and Misquoted Them - Ruth Halperin-Kaddari
    On June 7, The Times published an "investigation" titled, "Israel Says Hamas Weaponized Rape. Does the Evidence Add Up?," claiming that Hamas did not rape as a matter of policy and that the evidence of rape was scant.
        Three Israeli women experts quoted in the article have now charged that "the published article misrepresented our words, twisting them to convey the impression that we support the prejudiced argument that claims of sexual violence are being manipulated by Israel. The article aims to discredit and gaslight the victims of heinous acts of sexual violence. Hence, much of what we said was omitted, and only selective excerpts were used, taken out of context to serve the article's agenda."
        "We are shocked and disappointed by the exploitation of our willingness to be interviewed and the attempt to use our expertise to give credence to the reporters' views....In this instance, the reporters' agenda replaced the professional and ethical commitment to presenting evidence accurately."
        Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Academic Director of The Rackman Center at Bar-Ilan University and former Vice-President of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; Dr. Sarai Aharoni, Head of the Gender Studies Program at Ben-Gurion University; and Orit Sulitzeanu, CEO of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. (LinkedIn)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 4 IDF Soldiers Killed, 6 Wounded in Rafah Explosion - Amir Bohbot
    Four IDF soldiers were killed in Rafah on Monday and six others were hurt when an explosive device detonated in a building they had entered in the Shabura neighborhood, causing its collapse. Suspecting that the three-story building was boobytrapped, the force threw a concussive charge into the building to trigger the IEDs. After it was thrown, fighters entered, and only then did the explosion occur that collapsed the building. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Journalist, Physician Father Held Israelis Hostage - Saar Haas
    A Gazan human rights group named journalist Abdallah Aljamal, 36, who was killed along with his physician father, Dr. Ahmed Aljamal, 74, as those who held three Israeli hostages captive in their family home in Nuseirat. The Aljazeera website lists Abdallah as a reporter for the site and he published almost daily articles in English in the Palestine Chronicle. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The IDF's Gaza Hostage Rescue

  • Israel's Hostage Rescue Exposes Hamas's Vulnerabilities - Prof. Kobi Michael
    The Israeli operation to free four hostages from Nuseirat in Gaza on June 8 has posed a serious dilemma for Hamas, exposing all its vulnerabilities in terms of intelligence penetration, operational capability, the ability to protect its most important assets, and especially the cynical and cruel use it makes of its people as human shields.
        Public criticism against Hamas is increasing and likely to continue as the extent of the war's destruction and the damage caused to all residents of Gaza becomes clear. Most of its military and intelligence capabilities have been dismantled, and it's busy preserving and protecting its organizational remnants as the IDF continues to besiege it and as the chain of command no longer functions regularly. Hamas will be left vulnerable and exposed, and it's likely that this insight is permeating the consciousness of its leaders, who are hiding from the long arm of the IDF.
        In Gaza, many tunnels are no longer in use. Even if they weren't destroyed, the supply lines to them from the important strategic tunnels that were destroyed no longer exist. Besides the difficulties Israel faces, it's important to remember that Hamas's leadership is also facing significant difficulties.
        The writer, a senior researcher at INSS, served as the deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at Israel's Ministry for Strategic Affairs.   (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Hostage Rescue Exposed the Lie of "Uninvolved" Gaza Civilians - Nadav Shragai
    Hamas kept all seven hostages that the IDF has so far released in "civilian" residential apartments. Many of the neighbors knew. Thousands of the "uninvolved" demonstrated on the eve of the Oct. 7 massacre right next to the fence, buried explosives along it, and marked weak points.
        During the massacre itself, thousands of the "uninvolved" arrived in the area around Gaza to complete the job of murder, looting, and arson. They danced like madmen around the trucks with the kidnapped children, women, elderly, and youths, chanting "Death to the Jews."
        The "uninvolved" assisted Hamas in moving rockets to hiding places. "Uninvolved" teachers taught Gazan children that it is a religious duty to kill Jews, and "uninvolved" mothers declared they were proud to send their children to battle to become martyrs.
        During the war, IDF soldiers found that in thousands of homes of "uninvolved" families, weapons were buried, rockets were hidden, or tunnels were dug. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans voted for Hamas in 2006, whose charter called for the destruction of the Jews and the State of Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian "Civilians": Complicit in Hamas Crimes - Bassam Tawil
    The rescue of four Israeli hostages on June 8 has confirmed that Palestinian civilians were, and continue to be, complicit in the crimes carried out by Hamas. If regimes such as Hamas do not want their civilians killed during hostage rescue operations, they should not start unprovoked wars to begin with, then complain when they are hit back. They also should not take hostages, then hide them among the civilian population.
        The Palestinian families can hold only themselves accountable for the scores of Gazans who died during the rescue operation. Those families were not coerced or threatened into keeping the hostages inside their homes. They were delighted to help Hamas because they support the terrorist group.
        Three of the hostages were held in the home of Palestinian journalist Abdallah Al-Jamal, who worked for the U.S. non-profit Palestine Chronicle. Al-Jamal had been the source of multiple stories about Israeli attacks on civilians in Gaza. He wrote the stories while he and his family members were holding Jewish hostages in their home.
        Those who have been crying about the "innocent" and "uninvolved" civilians killed in the war initiated by Hamas should direct their anger towards the Palestinians, not Israel, for aiding and abetting murderers, rapists and kidnappers. Despite the devastation the terrorist group bestowed on its own people in Gaza, there are still many Palestinians there who continue to collaborate with Hamas.
        Before we break down in tears for Gaza's "innocent" civilians, let us recall that a larger portion of them elected Hamas, supported it, worked for it, sheltered it, and rejoiced over its crimes against Israelis, including the Oct. 7 atrocities. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Blaming Israel for Rescuing Its People - Editorial
    On Saturday, Israeli commandos rescued four hostages from two civilian buildings near the heart of Gaza's Nuseirat market. Professional anti-Israel voices, UN officials and the EU foreign-policy chief rushed to attack Israel. How dare Israel rescue its own citizens. Didn't it know there would be casualties?
        Haters of Israel will blame it and excuse Hamas every time, and the media are easily manipulated into playing along. The Hamas casualty figure is likely inflated, and it includes the terrorists killed trying to stop the rescue as well as those who hid the hostages.
        Hamas started the war with a massacre, took these hostages and hid them in a crowded civilian area. Then, when Israel came to free them, Hamas responded with heavy fire, including RPGs - yet people are condemning Israel. It makes us wonder if the West has lost the moral discernment and instinct for self-preservation needed to defend itself in a world of killers. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Don't Listen to Those Who Reframe a Hostage Rescue as an Atrocity - Jake Wallis Simons
    Israel's war in Gaza is not one of aggression, bloodlust or conquest. Despite the propaganda of Hamas and its armies of sympathizers at the UN and in the international media, Jews do not relish the deaths of children. Don't listen to those who reframe a hostage rescue as an atrocity. This is a war of defense, of humanity and of love.
        We root for the IDF. Those brave soldiers who leave their parents and their children for the maw of the death cult are not motivated by enthusiasm for killing, but to release their countrymen, to protect their families and their home.
        While the world tells Israel to lay down its arms, dreaming up ever more spurious arguments - stop fighting and Hamas will vanish, ceasefire and your daughters will be freed, be kind and they will come to love you, give them a state and they will allow you to live - the IDF must carry on.
        The writer is editor of the Jewish Chronicle-UK. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hamas Isn't Interested in Releasing Hostages - Jim Geraghty
    It would be nice if Hamas could be cajoled, pressured or bribed into releasing the remaining Israeli hostages. But there's little sign that will work. The problem is not an insufficient number of Israeli concessions. The problem is that there is little sign Hamas is willing to give up its best remaining bargaining chips.
        In April, when a potential pause in fighting and an exchange of Palestinian prisoners in Israel for 40 women or sick or elderly men being held hostage was being negotiated, Hamas said it didn't have 40 hostages who matched that description. Nor is there reason to think that if Hamas agreed to a ceasefire, it would last very long. Hamas broke ceasefires with Israel in 2003, 2007, and 2008. Hamas broke at least nine short-lived truces in 2014.
        The Biden administration, and much of the world, are sitting and waiting for Hamas - a U.S.-designated terrorist organization - to suddenly have a change of heart and become much more reasonable negotiators. These are the same guys who still regularly promise to "bring annihilation upon the Jews." How many different times and ways does Hamas have to say it? (Washington Post)

  • Other Issues

  • What America Can Learn from Israel on the Battlefield - Daniel Greenfield
    America has never successfully liberated and held territory from Islamic terrorists. Both Afghanistan and Iraq are now controlled by Islamic terrorists. Many top U.S. defense officials who oversaw both disasters have been criticizing Israel for not following in their footsteps.
        Rather than trying to hold territory filled with an enemy population among whom the terrorists move, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has used its manpower to attack concentrations of enemy forces, moving quickly and at times unpredictably, while refusing to get bogged down by trying to hold any particular area. This strategy has frustrated the entire Hamas war plan, which depended on using terror attacks to pin military units in place, and then launching ambushes.
        Israel learned a hard lesson from Oct. 7. It's not interested in playing defense anymore. Complaints that Israel has to "reclear" areas that it's already taken miss the point. The enemy population supports the terrorists and so the area can't be "cleared" or "stabilized."
        Reclearing is a strength because when terrorists return to territory that Israel is now familiar with, it can turn the tables and launch surprise attacks. Israel is not fighting to take land, but to grind down enemy forces wherever they operate. Holding and stabilizing territory bogs down armies in defensive modes, while Israel's approach is purely offensive and plays to its strengths.
        The writer is a Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.  (Gatestone Institute)
  • The ICC's Brazen Anti-Israel Bias - Prof. Eugene Kontorovich
    International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan applied for arrest warrants in late May based on war-crimes allegations against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. By targeting a country with a well-functioning legal system that is taking unprecedented humanitarian precautions in an urban war, the ICC is making it more difficult for Western democracies to defend themselves against lawless terror groups.
        The prosecutor's decision was based in part on the advice of several consultants he had handpicked. Many of them already had a longstanding bias against the Jewish state; they've been publicly condemning Israel and declaring it guilty of war crimes for years. Mr. Khan chose them despite their strong, legally controversial stances on the issues they were supposed to examine neutrally. That he chose these advisers indicates that he valued certainty in the results above even the appearance of impartiality.
        The writer is a professor at George Mason University Law School and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum.  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Will Allowing Hamas to Survive Lead to Israeli-Saudi Normalization? - John Podhoretz
    This weekend, Israel got some of its mojo back in the staggering rescue of the four hostages in broad daylight from the Nuseirat refugee camp - which is technically under UN control - the world's "peacekeepers."
        The Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Netanyahu's secret offer a couple of weeks ago. They are banging on a door that will not open.
        Supposedly, the carrot the administration is dangling is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. But the U.S. seems not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: The idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from.
        Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. (Commentary)

Israelis Can't Forget What Happened on Oct. 7 - Nikki Haley (New York Post)
  • On May 27, I spoke in Israel with one of the survivors of Hamas's killing spree on Oct. 7. Tali was dancing at the Nova music festival when the terrorists swarmed in. By the grace of God, she found a place to hide, and the terrorists didn't find her. But she heard everything that happened just feet away.
  • Tali heard the men chasing the young women she'd been dancing with minutes earlier. She heard their screams. She heard them cry for help and beg their attackers to stop. She heard the gunshots that took their lives. When the terrorists finally left, Tali came out of hiding, and saw her friends and fellow concertgoers were butchered. Many women had been raped. Some had their genitals mutilated.
  • I also visited Nir Oz, a once beautiful kibbutz now filled with ruins, where neighbors were tortured and burned alive. The terrorists who perpetrated those crimes have promised to do it again.
  • It's crucial that Israel finish the job in Gaza, defeat Hamas and return every hostage back home, including the eight Americans who are still hostages in Gaza, five of whom are known to be alive.
  • A ceasefire is the same as defeat. It would give the terrorists time and resources to complete their mission, which is the total destruction of Israel. Israel is fighting America's enemies. That's true of Hamas. It's true of Hizbullah and the Houthis. Most of all, it's true of Iran.
  • Our own security demands that we stand with Israel to stop Iran. We must give Israel everything it needs to destroy Hamas, defeat Hizbullah and beat down everything Iran throws its way. If Israel loses, America does, too.

    The writer is a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN.

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