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Fighting Between Hamas and Israel Rages on, Jerusalem Signals New Phase in War

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, in this handout picture released on Jan. 2, 2024. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Israel said on Tuesday its troops had killed dozens of terrorists in the north of the Gaza Strip in the past day, while its aircraft and tanks stepped up strikes in the south of the Palestinian enclave.

Residents said heavy fighting was also raging in central areas, citing shelling by Israeli tanks of parts of the Al-Bureij refugee camp.

The latest fighting took place after Israel announced plans to pull back some troops, signaling a new phase in the war against Hamas amid global concern over the plight of Gaza residents.

In its daily briefing, the Israeli military said that in the past day its forces had targeted terrorists in Gaza City in the north of the enclave and in unspecified locations along the Mediterranean coast.

“In Jabaliya area, troops killed dozens of terrorists, among them those who attempted to plant explosive devices, others who operated drones, and those who were armed identified driving toward the forces,” the military said.

Troops also seized weapons and dismantled rocket launchers in Khan Younis in the south and in a United Nations school in Al-Bureij, Israel’s military said.

Gaza residents said Israeli war planes and tanks stepped up bombardments of the eastern and northern areas of Khan Younis.

In another sign of the war spreading beyond Gaza’s borders, Israeli soldiers mounting a raid in the West Bank killed four armed terrorists who had fired at them from a house in the Palestinian village of Azzun, the military said.

An Israeli official said the situation on the border with Lebanon, where Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have exchanged artillery fire almost daily, would not be allowed to continue.

“This coming six-month period is a critical moment,” the official said.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian terror group in Gaza, said in separate statements they had fired mortar bombs and anti-tank rockets against Israeli forces in Khan Younis and were stopping them advancing to the western area. Tanks have been stationed east, north, and at the center.

Hamas on Monday claimed to have killed 15 Israeli soldiers after triggering an explosive minefield east of the Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City.

Hamas also showed its continued ability to target Israel after more than 12 weeks of the war, firing rockets at Tel Aviv.

The Gaza war was triggered by a surprise Hamas attack on Israeli towns on Oct. 7 that Israel says killed 1,200 people.

Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza say Israel’s military campaign in response to the Oct. 7 massacre has killed thousands of Palestinians. Experts have cast doubt on the reliability of casualty figures coming out of Gaza, which among other concerns don’t distinguish between civilian and terrorist deaths.

Israel has promised to wipe out Hamas, but it is unclear what it plans to do with the enclave should it succeed and where that leaves the prospect of an independent Palestinian state.

It has signaled a new phase in its offensive, with the Israeli official saying on Monday the military would reduce its forces inside Gaza this month and shift to a months-long phase of more localized “mopping up” operations.

The troop reduction would allow some reservists to return to civilian life, shore up Israel’s war-battered economy, and free up units in case of a wider conflict with the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, the official said.

A US official said the decision appeared to indicate the start of a shift to lower-intensity operations in the north of Gaza. Washington has been urging Israel to reduce the intensity of its military operation.

But Avi Dichter, a member of Israel’s security cabinet, said on Kan Radio: “Without Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure being destroyed and its governance capabilities toppled, the war will not end.”

Another prime concern for Israel is the return or rescue of hostages held by Hamas. The terrorists seized 240 hostages on Oct. 7 and Israel believes 129 are still held after some were released during a brief truce and others killed during air strikes and rescue or escape attempts.

Qatar and Egypt are seeking to negotiate a new truce and hostage deal.

Residents of the Sheikh Radwan district in Gaza City, which the Israeli offensive first focused on, said tanks had withdrawn after what they described as the most intense 10 days of warfare since the conflict began.

Tanks also pulled out of Gaza City’s al-Mina district and parts of Tel al-Hawa district, while retaining some positions in the suburb controlling the enclave’s main coastal road, residents said.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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