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A cookie-wielding mother, a gun-toting grandfather, a fearless young woman: Meet Israel’s newest heroes

(JTA) — When Hamas terrorists broke into her home early Saturday morning, Rachel Adari didn’t have any guns.

But she had another kind of weapon: cookies, which she offered to the men who held her and her husband captive for the next 15 hours, as her city of Ofakim and dozens of other towns in southern Israel faced a brutal invasion by Hamas from Gaza.

“I could see they were angry,” Adari told Israel’s Channel 12. “I asked them if they were hungry. I prepared them coffee and cookies.”

“She drove them crazy,” her husband David said. “She kept asking them if they want something.”

The snacks helped buy the couple enough time for their sons, both police officers, to join an operation that resulted in their liberation, a rare moment of rescue on a day marked primarily by loss.

Her insistence on snacks — archetypal Jewish mother behavior deployed at a dissonant moment — has also turned Rachel Adari into something of a national hero, one of several to emerge in the wake of the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

As the country mobilizes a military response and reckons with the unanswered questions about how such a breach could have happened in the first place, stories of individual people’s bravery and pluck in the face of unimaginable danger have provided a welcome counterpoint.

Major General (Ret.) Noam Tibon speaks to thousands of Israeli left-wing activists during a rally in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, calling for talks with Palestinians and in support of the two-state solution, May 27, 2017. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

In addition to Adari, there is Noam Tibon, a retired general who was already well known for his military leadership, which included commanding the Israel Defense Forces in the north, and his participation in this year’s pro-democracy protests.

On Saturday, Tibon learned that his son, the journalist Amir Tibon, was trapped with his family in their home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz, a short distance from the Gaza border. He grabbed his single pistol and, with his wife, drove from Tel Aviv toward Nahal Oz.

Their journey — the stuff of action movies — has been thoroughly documented in Israeli media, including in an account by Amir Tibon. First, Tibon encountered survivors of Hamas’ attack on a rave and drove them north, away from his son. Then, he ran into soldiers with no apparent mission and convinced one of them to join him. Before getting to his son’s kibbutz, they met injured soldiers and, once again, drove the opposite direction to take them to safety. Finally, Tibon arrived at Nahal Oz and, with a handful of soldiers, killed the Hamas attackers outside his son’s home.

Then he knocked on the window. Inside, Amir Tibon’s 3-year-old daughter responded using the Hebrew word for grandfather: “Saba is here.”

Noam Tibon is not the only retired general to burst into action without receiving orders. Yair Golan, who was previously also a left-wing lawmaker, has drawn attention for making multiple heroic rescues. First, Golan retrieved a journalist trapped in his home after his father posted on social media that the army and police were not acting to save him, according to a report on the Israeli news site Walla.

Yair Golan, a candidate with the Meretz party, arrives to casts his vote during the party primaries at a polling station in Tel Aviv, Aug. 23, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Later, Golan learned about three young men who were in hiding after running from Hamas attackers at the nature party at Kibbutz Re’im where 260 Israelis died and others were taken hostage. There, too, the army had not attempted a rescue, according to an account from Rani Gaon, the father of one of the young men, that the family posted on Facebook.

“Suddenly, out of nowhere, the angel arrives at the location of my son and his friends, calls my son, calls him by name, tells him ‘Hello, Major Yair Golan is speaking, come to me,’” Gaon wrote.

He said his son told him, “‘Golan came to collect us. He will bring us all the way to you’ and so it was. This person, this hero, this angel, came and rescued them from the area, simply unbelievable. I have no words to thank and salute you, Yair Golan.”

On Monday, a new name entered the pantheon of last weekend’s heroes: Inbal Rabin-Lieberman, a 25-year-old woman who is being credited for the survival of everyone on her kibbutz even as many of the neighboring kibbutzes suffered heavy losses.

According to viral social posts, Rabin-Lieberman noticed early on that someone was trying to infiltrate Kibbutz Nir-Am and ran from house to house to raise the alarm, becoming sort of an Israeli Paul Revere who mustered a strong enough defense that dozens of Hamas attackers were killed before they could do any damage.

“When it’s all over, this woman will receive the Israel Prize,” one post by a user named Ziv Rubinstein said. “The story of her heroism is a story that will enter the Israeli myth for generations.”

In Ofakim, the Adari home has become something of a pilgrimage site for Israelis who want to connect with a story of survival. Several people stopped by with their own deliveries of sweets, although the Adaris are staying with their son because their home is too damaged to be habitable, according to a report in the Times of Israel.

Her neighbors say they are unsurprised by her heroism. “If there’s one person in Ofakim who could charm even Hamas terrorists, then it’s Rachel,” one told the Israeli news site. “She told me she’d fed them because she knows a hungry man is more dangerous than a recently fed one. She also knew these young men believed they would die and were probably missing their mothers. It was not a bad idea to become that person.”

The post A cookie-wielding mother, a gun-toting grandfather, a fearless young woman: Meet Israel’s newest heroes appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Kyiv Rejects Putin’s ‘Absurd Ultimatum’ to End War

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

i24 NewsRussia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin said he would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow. Kyiv swiftly rejected the demands as tantamount to surrender.

Putin demands that Ukraine transfers to Russia four regions, including a 300,000 city of Kherson and 700,000 Zaporizhzhya as a “precondition” to “peace talks”. This man is delusional, and those in the West who speak of “negotiations” or “cease fire” are enemies of the free world.

— Sergej Sumlenny, LL.M (@sumlenny) June 14, 2024

“The conditions are very simple,” Putin said, listing them as the full withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the entire territory of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Putin’s maximalist conditions apparently reflect Moscow’s growing confidence that its forces have the upper hand in the war.

He restated his demand for Ukraine’s demilitarization and said an end to Western sanctions must also be part of a peace deal. He also repeated his call for Ukraine’s “denazification.”

“He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty,” said Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, rejecting the demands as “absurd.”

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Deadly Explosion Kills 8 IDF Soldiers in Rafah

Illustrative. Some rises after an Israeli strike as Israeli forces launch a ground and air operation in the eastern part of Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

i24 NewsEarly this morning, tragedy struck in the southern Gaza city of Rafah as eight Israeli soldiers lost their lives in a devastating explosion, marking the deadliest incident for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the region since January.

The IDF has confirmed the casualties, with one soldier identified as Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, a deputy company commander from Beit Jann in the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion.

The names of the other seven soldiers will be released after their families have been notified.

According to initial reports from the IDF, the soldiers were traveling in a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle (CEV) as part of a convoy around 5 a.m., following a successful overnight operation targeting Hamas militants in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafah. During the operation, troops under the 401st Armored Brigade reportedly neutralized approximately 50 gunmen.

The convoy was en route to buildings captured by the army for the soldiers to rest, when the Namer CEV, which was the fifth or sixth vehicle in the convoy, was struck by a powerful explosion. The nature of the explosion remains under investigation, with possibilities ranging from a pre-planted bomb to an improvised device placed on the vehicle by Hamas operatives.

Initial findings suggest that explosives stored on the exterior of the Namer CEV may have contributed to the severity of the blast. Normally, such explosives are designed to minimize harm to troops inside if detonated.

The IDF probe indicates there was no gunfire preceding the explosion, and the vehicle was not stationary at the time of the incident. The circumstances surrounding the tragedy have prompted intensified scrutiny into the safety protocols and operational procedures during military movements in hostile territories.

The deaths of these eight soldiers bring the total number of IDF casualties in recent ground operations against Hamas to 307. This figure includes a police officer killed during a recent hostage rescue operation and a civilian Defense Ministry contractor also slain in the conflict.

This is a developing story 

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U.S. Officials Fear Escalating Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah

Israeli firefighters work following rocket attacks from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near the border on its Israeli side, June 13, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Avi Ohayon

i24 NewsRecent actions by both Israel and Hezbollah have sparked growing concerns among U.S. officials, who fear that the situation could escalate into a full-scale war, according to reports from CBS News.

The tension has intensified following a series of Israeli airstrikes on Lebanese territory, which some American authorities believe are laying the groundwork for a larger military operation.

Sources within the US government have expressed worries that such a move could trigger a conflict that might strain Israel’s alliance with Washington.

Hezbollah, in response to recent events including the assassination of senior commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, has escalated its own actions. The group has begun launching daily rocket attacks targeting northern Israeli communities since October 8, citing solidarity with Hamas amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

US officials cited by CBS News have highlighted concerns over the potential unintended consequences of Hezbollah’s increased attacks. They fear that these actions could provoke Israel into launching a significant military assault, further exacerbating the volatile situation in the region.

The developments come amid ongoing international efforts to de-escalate tensions and prevent a wider conflict. Diplomatic channels remain active, with calls for restraint and dialogue from various quarters.

The United States, a key ally of Israel, has historically played a crucial role in mediating and influencing regional conflicts. Officials are closely monitoring the situation, emphasizing the importance of avoiding actions that could escalate tensions further.

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