The father of an Israeli reserve soldier who was killed in Gaza over the weekend eulogized his son by calling on US President Joe Biden to “cease and desist” from any attempts to stop Israel from “fighting your fight” and defeating the Hamas terror group.
Maj. (res.) Moshe Yedidyah Leiter, who had US citizenship, was killed on Friday by an explosion from a rigged tunnel shaft located near a mosque in the Beit Hanoun region.
Four other reserve soldiers from his battalion were also killed in the blast, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Saturday night, raising the number of soldiers who have lost their lives in Israel’s ground operation in Gaza to 42. The soldiers were not in the tunnel at the time of the explosion.
Leiter, a 39-year-old father of six from kibbutz Ein Tzurim in the Gush Etzion bloc outside of Jerusalem, was laid to rest at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on Sunday. His father, Yehiel Leiter, a former chief of staff to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered a powerful eulogy addressed directly at Biden.
Leiter opened his eulogy by drawing parallels between their origins and their shared experiences of loss.
“We were both born in Scranton, Pennsylvania,” Leiter began, “and as of last Friday, I, like you, am a bereaved parent; you lost a son, and I lost a son.”
“You know the pain that I’m feeling now. The harrowing sense of darkness, the stabbing at the heart, the longing to once again hug your boy, to talk to him about life,” he said, before outlining his son’s multifaceted life — including his 15 years in the IDF’s special forces, his medical studies, and his role as a father of six, with a newborn son “who will never know his father.”
“So we have two things in common. That’s why I’m taking the liberty,” Leiter said. “He was fighting your fight, Mr. President.”
Leiter then laid out what he saw as the stakes in the current Israel-Hamas war and the greater cause for which his son fought.
“He gave his life so the barbarians wouldn’t get through the gates of democracy and the Judeo-Christian Western values. He was fighting for human freedom and against all the lies and distortions of the freedom deniers who fooled so many Americans with their double talk. He was fighting against Hamas-ISIS,” said Leiter.
Addressing rumors of US pressure on Israel to cease its military offensive, Leiter urged Biden: “I respectfully ask of you, here on my son’s grave, cease and desist. Stand back, Mr. President, don’t pressure us. Let us do what we know how to do and what we must do: defeat evil.”
Leiter made similar comments to Netanyahu during a condolence call from the prime minister to his former aide on Saturday night.
“When the prime minister called me this evening to console me, I told him only one thing: ‘Bibi, my son’s blood was not spilled in vain. Finish this job. Don’t let any pressure in the world stop you. Because the only consolation of this loss is banishing evil,’” he told the Israel Hayom daily.
The other soldiers killed by the booby-trapped shaft were identified as Master Sgt. (res.) Matan Meir, Sgt. Maj. (res.) Yossi Hershkovitz, and Master Sgt. (res.) Sergey Shmerkin, all from the 551st Reserve Paratrooper Brigade’s 697th Battalion. Also on Friday, Master Sgt. (res.) Netanel Harush, a soldier in the Givati Brigade’s logistics unit, was killed in a separate incident in Gaza.
Including Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israeli communities, the death toll among Israeli troops stands at 361.
At his son’s funeral, Leiter described the Gaza battlefront as “a war of light against darkness, of truth against lies.”
Leiter concluded his eulogy by appealing to Biden’s leadership, suggesting that his entire career was a preparation for this moment. “It is the whole reason you are the leader of the free world,” he said.
“Stand with Moshe, who loved America,” he urged, highlighting Moshe’s connection with the US, including training with the US Army’s Delta Force. “Those who stand with us will be blessed. Those who do not stand with us will fail.”
Noting that Israel has never before been so united, the grieving father told Biden: “We’re going to win this one, with you or without. We’re going to win it hands down.”
Debbie Weiss is a freelance journalist based in Israel.
Fight Against Antisemitism Must Be Based on ‘Universalist’ Values, Macron Tells French Religious Leaders
French President Emmanuel Macron met with leading representatives of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths on Monday, issuing an appeal to combat rising antisemitism on the basis of France’s “universalist values.”
Speaking following the parley, the president of the Catholic Conference of Bishops of France (CEF), Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said that Macron had encouraged sustained outreach to younger people.
Christian Krieger — the president of the Protestant Federation of France who was also in attendance — explained that Macron urged that French youth needed to embrace France’s universalist, republican culture if they were to “avoid victim competition and ultimately build the values of the Republic.”
France’s chief rabbi, Haim Korsia, echoed Krieger’s interpretation, saying that “no one can lock themselves into their sole and simple suffering. At that moment, we segment a society.”
Muslim leaders who did not attend Sunday’s national rallies against antisemitism — which drew 182,000 participants in Paris and more than 20,000 in provincial cities — were also present at Monday’s meeting with Macron, arguing that racism and prejudice against Muslims needed to be in the frame alongside antisemitism.
“I have no lessons to learn from the fight against antisemitism. The Mosque of Paris has always been extremely active in the fight against antisemitism,” Chems-Eddine Hafiz, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said.
Hafiz added that while he had no wish “to compete with the victims” because there has been “a real rise in antisemitism,” he stressed as well that “there has been an outburst of statements made against Muslims.”
In an article for the news outlet Le Parisien published on Sunday, Macron spoke of “the unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism” that followed the Hamas pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
“In one month, more than a thousand antisemitic acts were committed on our soil: Three times more acts of hatred against our Jewish compatriots in a few weeks than during the entirety of last year,” Macron wrote.
“Our Jewish compatriots therefore experience legitimate anguish. Fear of taking their children to school. Fear of going home alone. Fear to the point of erasing their names to protect themselves. As if the grief was not enough, they are gripped by anguish and loneliness. As if the past feelings transmitted by their parents, their grandparents were suddenly resurfacing,” asserted Macron, who faced criticism for not attending Sunday’s march.
Macron emphasized that Israel had a right to defend itself. “There is no ‘yes but’: putting Hamas out of harm’s way is a necessity,” he stated. However, he added, “this defense must be accompanied by the resumption of political dialogue and ensure the protection of civilians and hostages in Gaza who cannot pay the price of their lives for the bloodthirsty madness of the terrorists.”
Senior French politicians who attended the march in Paris included Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, the speaker of the French parliament, Yaël Braun-Pivet, and her equivalent in the country’s senate, Gérard Larcher. The march was overshadowed by a political dispute over the participation of the far right Rassemblement National (RN — “National Rally”), which was accused by critics of exploiting Jewish fears of antisemitism to push its anti-Muslim agenda.
How the Mossad Helped Stop an Iranian-Hezbollah Attempt to Kill Jews
New details emerged about Operation Trapiche (“warehouse” in English), which resulted in the arrest of two men in Brazil with suspected links to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. The men were reportedly plotting to launch a series of major terror attacks against multiple Jewish and Israeli targets throughout Brazil.
It was the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, that had conducted surveillance of some of the key masterminds behind the Hezbollah plot. Though not known for speaking publicly, the Mossad issued a rare public statement on Thursday, November 8, thanking “the Brazilian security services for the arrest of a terrorist cell that was operated by Hezbollah in order to carry out an attack on Israeli and Jewish targets in Brazil.”
The Mossad duly noted that the series of attacks was “planned by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, directed and financed by the Iranian regime.”
Authorities revealed that one of the men was already in custody facing money laundering and smuggling charges in the country. But the new arrests were made in Sao Paulo state, with one suspect being apprehended at a bakery outside the city, while the other at Guarulhos International Airport upon his arrival from Lebanon. He was found to be carrying $5,000.
Investigations revealed that the two men had recently traveled to Beirut to meet with Hezbollah representatives and had negotiated prices for collaboration in terrorist attacks, created a list of addresses to be targeted, and were in the process of recruiting Brazilian operatives.
The Brazilian federal police said in a statement that “the operation aimed to prevent acts of terrorism and gather evidence of possible recruitment of Brazilians for extremist activities within the country.”
The group was allegedly planning attacks on several Jewish community buildings, including synagogues and the Israeli embassy in Brasilia. The Federal Police searched 11 locations in Minas Gerais, the Federal District, and São Paulo states. Interpol has also issued arrest warrants for two Brazilians believed to be in Lebanon, where Hezbollah operates.
According to Leonardo Coutinho, a Brazilian investigative writer and analyst with the private Washington-based firm Inbrain Consultants, “Hezbollah is using the same strategy that led to the attacks in Buenos Aires, Argentina, against the Israeli embassy in 1992 and the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in 1994. At that time, Hezbollah exploited the country as a base for its logistical and financial operations.”
US agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also took part in the investigation. On October 11, the Commander of US Southern Command, Laura Richardson, warned about the potential for Hezbollah and Iran to carry out terrorist attacks in Latin America.
There has been no official statement from the Brazilian government regarding the recent police operation. Justice Minister Flavio Dino referred to the investigation as “a hypothesis,” without directly naming Hezbollah. “Look, this is a hypothesis. The Federal Police are investigating and showing that, in this case, we only have one side, it’s the side of the law, of the international commitments that Brazil has made,” the minister said.
The news of the operation came at a very inconvenient time for President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Although Brazil has always been neutral in international conflicts, since the Ukrainian-Russian war, Lula has taken a more active role. After the October 7 Hamas attack against Israel, the Brazilian president said that “Hamas attacks do not justify the deaths of millions of innocents.” Lula’s political party, Brazil’s Worker’s Party, accused Israel of carrying out a “genocide” against the Palestinians.
Lula called Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi — with whom Lula allied himself upon taking office — in mid-October “to discuss the release of hostages in Gaza.”
Brazil has chosen not to designate Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations. This decision, coupled with the presence of over 30,000 Lebanese nationals in the Triple Frontier region on the border of Paraguay and Argentina, has created an environment that has facilitated Hezbollah’s growth in the country.
“Operation Trapiche confirms what was already known. Since its inception, Hezbollah has taken advantage of the Lebanese diaspora in Brazil to radicalize, find funding, including through drug trafficking, and to hide,” said Coutinho.
Hezbollah’s illicit activities in Brazil came to light in 2018 with the arrest of Lebanese businessman Assad Ahmad Barakat, identified as the group’s financial operator. He was arrested for ideological falsehood in Foz do Iguaçu, and later extradited to Paraguay. Before being arrested, he was the target of US sanctions in 2004. The document released by the US Treasury Department at the time accused Barakat of maintaining “close ties with the leadership of Hezbollah.”
In June, an Argentinian judge sent arrest warrants to Interpol, for four Lebanese men who were allegedly involved in the AMIA attack. Among them, Farouk Abdul Hay Omairi is reported to be living freely in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. In 2006 the Brazilian Federal Police arrested him for leading a drug trafficking network that operated between Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. The US Treasury Department sanctioned him in 2006 for his ties to Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the companies owned by another Lebanese individual on the Argentinian list, Salman Raouf Salman, are still operating in Brazil.
Furthermore, Garip Uç was recently arrested at a drug laboratory in the coastal region of São Paulo. His brother, Eray, is still at large and has been linked to a potent drug trafficking network of Lebanese origin based in Paraguay and led by Hezbollah’s financier, Ali Issa Chamas. Chamas is serving a sentence for international drug trafficking in Paraguay.
This network poses a threat, and its wrath could sow terror among Israeli and Jewish communities in Latin America.
Maria Zuppello is an Italian analyst based in Brazil and an expert on the crime-terror nexus. In her book, Tropical Jihad, she explores the connections between Hezbollah, Latin American cartels, and the Italian ‘Ndrangheta mafia. Maria tweets at @mzuppy A version of this article was originally published by The Investigative Project on Terrorism.
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Attacks from Gaza Were Common From 1948 to 1956; Here’s How They Were Stopped
In 1949, following Israel’s War of Independence and the establishment of the borders in the armistice agreement signed between Israel and its neighbors, infiltrations from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into the State of Israel began to occur on a significant scale.
These infiltrations were not necessarily organized by terrorist groups, and in many cases, they were initiated by individuals or local groups. Nonetheless, there were instances of infiltration carried out by remnants of the Arab Liberation Army, supported by the Nazi-sympathizing, eliminationist Palestinian Mufti, Haj Muhammad Amin AL-Husseini, or by Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers.
Between 1949 and 1956, there were approximately 70,000 cases of infiltration. During the peak years of border conflict, from 1950 to 1953, there were around 16,000 infiltration incidents reported each year. Due to improved Israeli security measures, the number of infiltrations decreased to about 5,000 per year.
Dealing with this constant security challenge, known as “Bitash” (routine security measures), was one of the most difficult problems Israel had to contend with during this period. In response, the IDF established the Hagmar (territorial defense organization), created the role of the Rabash (Regional Officer for Civilian Defense), and set up the Border Guard as a law enforcement arm responsible for safeguarding the state’s borders.
Despite Israel’s extensive development of settlement defenses, infiltrators continued to penetrate settlements, either for theft or for the purposes of vengeance and harm. In his research on Israel’s border wars during these years, Benny Morris extensively describes in detail the infiltration activities that led to the loss of 317 Jewish lives due to the actions of these infiltrators, with the majority of them coming from the Gaza Strip (22 killed in 1949, 19 in 1950, 48 in 1951, 42 in 1952, 44 in 1953, 33 in 1954, and 54 in 1956).
At that time, as is the case today, the victims of infiltrations by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip lived in settlements near the border, such as Nahal Oz, Be’eri, Nirim, and Netiv HaAsara.
At times, the infiltrators even penetrated deeper into Israel, reaching places like Yehud, Rishon LeZion, Ashkelon, and Ashdod.
At this time, the defensive measures taken were not sufficient, and Israel turned to offensive initiatives. Unit 101 was established and operated briefly before merging into the Paratroopers Brigade, but it had a significant impact on shaping military doctrine. During this period, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and was responsible for maintaining the border. Infiltration was considered a violation of the armistice agreement signed between Israel and Egypt. Both Jordan and Egypt struggled to adhere to the agreements requiring them to maintain the armistice lines.
On February 28, 1955, Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip in what became known as “Operation Black Arrow.” From a military perspective, this operation was a success. The IDF entered the heart of Gaza, destroyed Egyptian military headquarters, and killed 37 Egyptian soldiers and one civilian. The Israeli force lost eight soldiers, and 13 were wounded.
The operation sparked outrage in Egypt and other Arab countries. In the Gaza Strip, large-scale protests were held by local residents who called for an intifada and requested weapons to defend themselves. Palestinian historian Hussein Abu Naml describes the Palestinian demands of the Egyptian leadership, including the establishment of a Palestinian national guard in the Gaza Strip that would be authorized and trained by the army to carry out military operations inside the State of Israel.
Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, considered the Israeli action an affront to his honor and that of the Egyptian military, which had failed to protect the residents of the Gaza Strip. He believed it allowed Israel to target its bases from deep within the Gaza Strip. From Egypt’s perspective, this was one provocation too many, leading Egypt to adopt a tactic similar to what Hamas employs today: conducting large-scale incursions by militants who would infiltrate settlements in the Gaza envelope and target the civilian population.
In response to the demands of the local population, as reflected in the massive protests following the Gaza operation, the Egyptians established a defense system in the form of a Palestinian National Guard (al-Haras al-Watani). It had 500 fighters at its peak, and they were trained and equipped by the Egyptian military. Its primary purpose was to defend the Gaza Strip. Later, the organization was redefined as a Palestinian battalion within the Egyptian army.
From among those recruited for the National Guard, a unique commando unit of select soldiers was formed, similar to Hamas’s Nakhba, led by Lt. Col. Mustafa Hafez. At its largest, the unit contained about 400 fedayeen (self-sacrificers). The soldiers of this commando unit received training in sabotage, infiltration, and intelligence.
Egypt’s military intelligence directed two waves of infiltration into Israel, the first in August 1955 and the second in April-May 1956. Each wave consisted of approximately 200 infiltrators who entered Israel in small groups to carry out acts of terror. Their mission was to assassinate Jews and gather intelligence. The age range of these commandos was typically between 20 and 32, with most of them having families. They came from all segments of the population, including refugees and residents. Support for the Egyptian commando operations, as they were called in the Egyptian media at the time, came from all ends of the population.
The commandos sometimes operated independently without central communication or the ability of central command to bring them back. They often chose to hide with their relatives in the West Bank and didn’t return to Gaza. The fedayeen relied on operatives and former prisoners who were familiar with the area and gathered intelligence before launching attacks on kibbutzim and moshavim, especially in southern Israel.
In a speech on Eid al-Fitr in May 1956, Nasser praised their actions and said, “You have proven that your homeland can rely on you. The spirit you have brought into the enemy must hold. The world has recognized your actions, and, more importantly, the enemy has felt the strength of your intentions against him. He has learned the extent to which you can show courage and strength.”
Egyptian media celebrated the fedayeen and exaggerated their numbers significantly, even reaching tens of thousands. They were defined in Arabic media reports as Egyptian commando forces, but it’s worth recalling that these were Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip who were directed by Egypt and primarily targeted civilians. This was not reflected in Arab media coverage of their actions.
The proliferation of infiltrations and Israeli retaliatory actions escalated, leading Israel to occupy the Gaza Strip on October 29, 1956 as part of Operation Kadesh (also known as the Sinai Campaign), which involved the participation of Britain and France. A significant conflict in Gaza had become inevitable due to the escalation of border tensions, Israeli retaliatory operations in the heart of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and widespread infiltration waves by infiltrators, many of whom were directed by and inspired by Egyptian intelligence. From the Israeli perspective, the goal of Operation Kadesh was to bring peace and security to the residents of the State of Israel, particularly those in the southern settlements.
Moshe Dayan, who played a role in shaping Israeli policy during those years, understood that there was no alternative to war to put an end to the fedayeen’s activities.
The Israeli National Guard, which was organized before the war, fought fiercely against the fedayeen to defend the Gaza Strip. The fedayeen were either captured or forced to flee and go into hiding. According to Arab sources, around a thousand Palestinians were killed during the Gaza Strip’s occupation over a period of about three months. IDF reports provide lower numbers of around two hundred Palestinian causalities, while UN estimates suggest that the number of fatalities on the Palestinian side ranged from 440 to 550. At that time, there were allegations that IDF forces committed massacres during the Gaza Strip’s occupation, particularly in Khan Yunis, where there was strong resistance from Palestinian National Guard forces.
In a report to the IDF Chief of Staff’s office describing the Gaza Strip’s occupation, Lt. Col. Matti Peled, who later became a Member of Knesset and a left-wing activist, said that Israel’s policy led to the disbandment of the fedayeen unit. Some of its members were killed while others were arrested. After Israel’s withdrawal in March 1957 under strong pressure from the United States and the Soviet Union, Egypt refrained from reestablishing the fedayeen unit and adhered to the terms of the ceasefire agreements to prevent violent infiltrations into Israel.
Gaza enjoyed relative peace for 11 years. While there were occasional small incidents, they did not reach the same scale as in the 1950s. The Egyptian authorities demonstrated that when there is an assertive and decisive authority effectively governing the Gaza Strip, it is possible to provide security for the residents of Israel.
In June 1967, the Gaza Strip was once again occupied by Israel, which maintained full control over it until the signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s. A portion of control was transferred to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, initially signed on May 4, 1994. Israel continued to retain control over parts of the Gaza Strip, according to interim agreements, until its disengagement in August 2005.
It’s worth noting that before the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority within the framework of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, Israel did not suffer from rocket fire into its territory from the Gaza Strip. In the period leading up to the 2005 Israeli disengagement, there were sporadic rocket attacks, primarily towards the communities of Gush Katif and nearby settlements, originating from areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and mostly carried out by Hamas.
As of 2005, the Gaza Strip was ostensibly under the control of the Palestinian Authority, which saw itself as a quasi-independent Palestinian entity.
On January 25, 2006, Hamas was elected by a significant majority to the Palestinian Legislative Council, leading to the formation of the first Hamas government led by Ismail Haniyeh. This transformed Hamas, an organization with an Islamist extremist and antisemitic ideology, into a governing authority within the Palestinian territories. In June 2007, Hamas violently evicted Fatah and took full control of the Gaza Strip, effectively turning it into an independent entity. It became a local Islamic emirate ruling over a population of around two million people, many of whom support the struggle against Israel, according to Palestinian surveys.
Ever since 2006, when Hamas assumed power, the Gaza Strip has not experienced peace. Numerous rounds of conflict erupted between Israel and Gaza, resulting in many casualties and significant economic losses. The most notable conflicts include Operations Cast Lead (2009), Pillar of Defense (2012), Protective Edge (2014), and Guardian of the Walls (2021), as well as smaller clashes involving Islamic Jihad.
The Gaza Strip has become a battleground between Israel and Iran’s proxy groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as other Palestinian organizations, many of which hold anti-Western, jihadist, and Islamist ideologies derived from the Muslim Brotherhood’s fundamentalist beliefs.
The Swords of Iron War imposed on Israel on October 7, 2023, could be an opportunity to bring security and calm to the western Negev communities and allow for their growth. The central conclusion that can be drawn from the historical account presented above is that in order to achieve security and tranquility for the residents of Israel, there is a need for a governing authority capable of enforcing its control. This can be inferred from the relative quiet that prevailed between 1956 and 1967 under Egyptian rule and the Israeli military rule that was in place from 1967 until the Oslo Accords.
Therefore, it is not enough to simply occupy the territory or weaken Hamas’ authority. One must consider the day after the end of the war. The alternatives proposed for governance in Gaza, including the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip, international forces taking control, a UN police force, and more, all carry significant risks. However, the years of Israeli military government in the Gaza Strip, at least until the outbreak of the first intifada in December 1987, appear to have been a historically peaceful and prosperous period in the Gaza Strip. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to consider the establishment of a temporary Israeli military government in Gaza until a regional solution to the Gaza issue is implemented.
The first step, therefore, is the establishment of a full Israeli military government over the entire Gaza Strip, despite its economic drawbacks and high cost. This Israeli military government would work to maintain order and security and would enable international support for Gaza’s rehabilitation after its occupation. The establishment of this military government, initiated by Israel, should clarify from the outset that it is a temporary government aimed at ensuring peace and security until a regional solution receives international support.
The second stage, following the establishment of the military government, is for Israel to seek the integration of local and regional forces, including military forces, into the newly formed government. This would mainly include local Palestinian elements, Egyptians, and additional regional countries with an interest in maintaining security stability in the region.
Israel has a history with multinational forces in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and it is not necessarily a positive one. Therefore, in the case of Gaza, the regional force established to ensure peace and stability may also include the IDF. Israel would play a dominant role in this multinational force and would operate in collaboration with other contributing parties.
The Swords of Iron War is demonstrating that the Gaza issue is not just a localized conflict between Israel and Hamas or between Israel and the Palestinians, but rather a regional problem. Hence, the future of Gaza is embedded in a regional solution in which Israel plays an integral part and is a full participant. A regional solution for Gaza is a political and diplomatic interest for other countries in the region and the international community, particularly the United States. Israeli success at shaping a regional solution that guarantees its security would be a strategic change and a significant achievement.
Dr. (Lt. Col.) Shaul Bartal is a senior researcher at the BESA Center and a research fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Lisbon. During his military service, he served in various roles in the West Bank. He has also taught in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies and the Department of Political Science. A version of this article was originally published by the BESA Center.
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