(JTA) — Hamas has released two American hostages, a mother and a daughter, whom it was holding in the Gaza Strip. The release was confirmed by an organization dedicated to the rescue of the more than 200 hostages the terrorist group captured in its Oct. 7 invasion.
“The families headquarters congratulates the release of hostages from Hamas captivity,” the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said in a message it distributed to reporters on WhatsApp. “The continued holding of hostages is a war crime. Hundreds of families await the assistance of leaders of Arab states after Hamas’ actions shocked the entire world.”
Foreign reports named the women as Natalie and Judith Raanan of Evanston, Illinois.
Media reports said the two were a mother and a daughter, who were released to the Red Cross. A Red Cross spokeswoman did not immediately return a request from comment.
A spokeswoman for the Families Forum, Liat Bell Sommer, confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the two hostages are American, but said she could not provide further details at the request of the families.
A Hamas spokesman told reporters on a Telegram channel that it had “released two American citizens (a mother and her daughter) for humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”
President Joe Biden has backed Israel in its war against Hamas since the terrorist group invaded Israel, killing 1,400 people, most of them civilians, wounding thousands and kidnapping more than 20o. Israel declared war on Hamas following the invasion.
Israel Orders More Evacuations in Khan Younis after US blocks UN’s Gaza ceasefire call
Israel ordered residents out of the center of Gaza’s main southern city Khan Younis on Saturday and pounded the length of the enclave, after the United States wielded its U.N. Security Council veto to shield its ally from a demand for a ceasefire.
Since a truce collapsed last week following Hamas’s refusal to release female hostages, Israel has expanded its ground campaign into the southern half of the Gaza Strip by launching the storming of Khan Younis. Simultaneously, both sides have reported a surge in fighting in the north.
Israel’s Arabic-language spokesperson posted a map on X highlighting six numbered blocks of Khan Younis that residents were told to evacuate “urgently.” They included parts of the city center that had not been subject to such orders before.
Israel issued similar warnings at the start of this week before storming the eastern parts of the city. Residents said they feared new evacuation orders heralded a further assault.
“It might be a matter of time before they act against our area too. We have been hearing bombing all night,” said Zainab Khalil, 57, displaced with 30 of her relatives and friends in Khan Younis near Jalal street where troops told people to leave.
“We don’t sleep at night, we stay awake, we try to put the children to sleep and we stay up fearing the place would be bombed and we’ll have to run carrying the children out. During the day begins another tragedy, and that is: how to feed the children?”
The vast majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have already been forced from their homes, many fleeing several times. With fighting raging across the length of the territory, residents and U.N. agencies say there is now effectively nowhere safe to go, though Israel disputes this.
Israel has blocked Gazans from fleeing along the main north-south route down the spine of the narrow strip, and is shunting them instead towards the Mediterranean coast.
THOUSANDS MISSING PRESUMED DEAD
A house in the city was engulfed in a roaring blaze after being struck overnight.
Footage obtained by Reuters inside another hospital in Deir al-Balah, the Jaffa hospital, showed extensive damage from a strike on a mosque next door. The obliterated ruins of the mosque could be seen through the blown-out windows.
There were no new figures on Saturday for dead and wounded from other parts of Gaza, including the entire northern half, where hospitals have ceased functioning and ambulances often can no longer reach the dead.
“We believe the number of martyrs under the rubble might be greater than those received at hospitals,” health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra told Reuters.
An ambulance worker in Gaza City’s Shejaiya district told Reuters by telephone that crews were often unable to respond to calls they were receiving from the wounded.
“It pains our hearts, but we have tried before in the past days to head there and our teams came under Israeli fire,” he said, asking his name not be printed for fear of reprisals. “We believe there are martyrs in some of the areas east of Shejaiya and some other places, but no one can get in.”
Northern Gaza families were posting messages on the internet pleading with emergency crews to venture into Gaza City.
“We appeal to the Red Cross and the civil emergency to immediately go to Attallah house. People are besieged inside their house in Jala street in Gaza City, near Zaharna building. The house is on fire,” wrote members of the Attallah family.
U.S. VETO MAKES WASHINGTON ‘COMPLICIT’
In a vote at the United Nations on Friday, 13 of the Security Council’s 15 members backed a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It was blocked by Washington’s veto, while Britain abstained.
Israel launched its campaign to annihilate Hamas after the Iran-backed Islamist group’s fighters burst across the Gaza border fence on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, raping women, and capturing 240 hostages in a rampage though Israeli towns.
Israeli forces say they are limiting civilian casualties by providing them with maps showing areas that are safe, and blame Hamas for causing harm to civilians by hiding among them, which the terrorists deny.
Washington has continued to support Israel’s position that a ceasefire would benefit Hamas. “We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the Security Council before exercising Washington’s veto.
Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, condemned the U.S. veto as “inhumane.” Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority which lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007, said the veto made the United States complicit in Israeli war crimes.
Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan said in a statement: “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.”
The post Israel Orders More Evacuations in Khan Younis after US blocks UN’s Gaza ceasefire call first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
US Government Uses Emergency Authority to Provide Tank Shells to Israel
The Biden administration has used an emergency authority to allow the sale of about 14,000 tank shells to Israel without congressional review, the Pentagon said on Saturday.
The State Department on Friday used an Arms Export Control Act emergency declaration for the tank rounds worth $106.5 million for immediate delivery to Israel, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The shells are part of a bigger sale that was first reported by Reuters on Friday that the Biden administration is asking the U.S. Congress to approve. The larger package is worth more than $500 million and comprises of 45,000 shells for Israel’s Merkava tanks, regularly deployed in its offensive in Gaza.
As the war intensified, how and where exactly the U.S. weapons are used in the conflict has come under more scrutiny, even though U.S. officials say there are no plans to put conditions on military aid to Israel or to consider withholding some of it.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined and provided detailed justification to Congress that the tank shells must immediately be provided to Israel in the national security interests of the United States, according to the Pentagon statement.
The sale will be from U.S. Army inventory and consist of 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer (MPAT) tank cartridges and related equipment.
“Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense,” the Pentagon said, adding that there will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of the sale.
The post US Government Uses Emergency Authority to Provide Tank Shells to Israel first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
David Ellenson was my rabbi. I can’t believe we won’t learn from him anymore.
(JTA) — It is the 24th of Kislev, one of the darkest days of the year, when we cannot wait to bring in the light of Hanukkah — and I just received the call that my teacher, my mentor, my rabbi, David Ellenson, has died. I was meant to meet with him today. It is hard for the child of a rabbi, who is also a rabbi, and teaches rabbis, to find a rabbi of her own. But David was my rabbi. The moment I choke on the words “Baruch Dayan Emet,” tears fall from my eyes.
I suddenly remember what David taught me in the aftermath of Sept. 11: “Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel said: Do not make monuments for the righteous — their ‘d’varim’ are their memorial” (Jerusalem Talmud Shekalim 11a). D’varim can mean words, and it can mean deeds, and David embodied the best of both.
The rabbis taught that it is forbidden to delivery a eulogy on Hanukkah except for sages of Torah — and that David was. I know that I am but one of a legion of his students who call him “my rabbi,” and will share their memories of him and continue to transmit his wisdom. David’s d’varim, words and love shared over 25 years, have shaped me as a thinker, rabbi, human, parent, spouse, teacher and friend.
In 2001, my husband and I were a few feet away when a terrorist bomb detonated in central Jerusalem. It was David, then president of HUC-JIR, who sat with me as a first-year student in Jerusalem. He was there on one of his many visits during the height of the second intifada, and he said nothing. Just sat with me, held my hand, hugged me as I shook.
Years later, he was my thesis advisor, and together we struggled with theological questions and the development of liberal Zionism. David had encyclopedic knowledge of where, on an exact page, I might find a paragraph of Rawidowicz or Hildesheimer, and on what volume and page in the Talmud I could find something that would support or refute or confuse my reading of a piece of liturgy. We had arguments over the nature of Jewish Peoplehood, of what makes us a collective body, of God and Torah and Jewish history and Jewish legacy.
Our work together extended into my current role supporting a new generation of rabbis through Atra: Center for Rabbinic Innovation, where he came on as a rabbinic advisor. Just this Tuesday, in my Google doc — that he had, of course, converted to a Word document — he added this comment in the margin: “October 7th has changed everything. I think it will be a watershed moment in American Jewish identity and American Jewish-Israeli relationships.” This week, with the shared goal of helping our rabbis adapt their leadership to this moment, we were grappling with the shifting nature of individual and public Jewish commitments in a moment when liberalism and Judaism were not necessarily in sync. Intellectual, but also pointed towards the real work that rabbis are doing today.
David was my rebbe. He pastored me through the untimely and sudden death of my father, whom he knew before my birth. He never hesitated to share his paramount love for, pride in and commitment to his wife and family; just this week, he waited to schedule a meeting until he helped send his grandchildren off to school. I know that relative to his family and his close friends, my loss is small, and I pray that this community of his students can support them in their profound grief. Yet David took to heart the teaching of Sanhedrin 19b that one who teaches Torah to the child of a friend is like another parent. David knew that all of us need to feel that type of love, and I am in awe of his ability to offer both validation and instruction, often at the same time. Not only to me, but to many hundreds of us who have lost our rabbi, our teacher, for he was a Gadol HaDor, a great rabbi of our era.
It’s hard to believe that David’s d’varim, words and actions are, as of the 24th of Kislev, past tense. I will not be meeting with him today, or any day. I will never again feel his hug, hear Torah from his mouth between sips of Diet Coke. I will never hear his feedback on this week’s writing; won’t have his ongoing advice as I seek to continue the work of advancing strong rabbinic leadership.
We Jews follow blessings with action, words with deeds. When we soon say “may his memory be for a blessing,” we rabbis can make it so when we learn and build upon David’s Torah; seek to extend his boundless love as we offer guidance with affirmation and pastoral care with empathy; to have open-eyed, spiritually attuned, and proactive care for Israel and the Jewish people; to ensure that our actions and commitments reflect our highest values. I know that my life’s work, supporting rabbis and the future of Jewish spiritual leadership, will always be guided and enriched by his wisdom and his actions.
May we, the students who learned from, who loved, and who experienced the love of our rabbi, David Ellenson, shlit”a (the master), continue to build upon, to share, and to animate his d’varim, his words and deeds, and together strengthen the monument that will serve as his memorial and legacy.
The post David Ellenson was my rabbi. I can’t believe we won’t learn from him anymore. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.