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Israel investigating Hamas claims that children Ariel and Kfir Bibas were killed in Gaza

(JTA) — Israel is investigating Hamas’ claim that its youngest hostages, brothers Kfir and Ariel Bibas, are dead, along with their mother Shiri.

The Bibas family became an early face of the hostage crisis after Hamas released a video showing Shiri holding her sons while being taken captive. Kfir, who is 10 months old, has become a symbol of the campaign for the hostages’ release. His brother Ariel is 4.

Hamas took some 240 hostages in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, in which the terror group killed 1,200 and wounded thousands. Hamas has since released more than 80 hostages, with most of them going free since Friday as part of agreements with Israel and other countries that have also included a temporary pause in the fighting in Gaza. Several more hostages are known to have died in captivity.

Although most of the child hostages have been freed under the agreement with Israel, the Bibas family was not among those who have been returned to Israel and was not on the list of hostages slated for release Wednesday, a family representative said early in the day.

Shortly afterward, Hamas said the two brothers had been killed along with their mother in an Israeli airstrike. Israel did not immediately confirm or refute the claim but said it was investigating what it called a “cruel and inhumane” allegation. Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, was reportedly meeting with representatives of the family when Hamas made the claim.

“Our family has learned of Hamas’ latest claims,” the family said in a statement. “We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials. We thank the people of Israel for their warm support, but kindly request privacy during this difficult time.”

At least one other Israeli hostage who has been released, 77-year-old Hannah Katzir, had previously been claimed by a different faction in Gaza to have been killed.

There have been no Israeli airstrikes in Gaza since Friday, when Israel and Hamas reached a deal in which groups of hostages would be released daily in exchange for a cessation of hostilities and a release of Palestinian security prisoners in Israel.

Hamas said earlier this week that it had handed the family to a different faction within Gaza. Israeli authorities have said they believed that the family, which also includes the boys’ father Yarden, was being held somewhere in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza city.


The post Israel investigating Hamas claims that children Ariel and Kfir Bibas were killed in Gaza appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics

And who has the best chance of medalling in Paris.

The post Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Kamala Harris’s Record on Israel Raises Questions About Support for Jewish State if Elected US President

US Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

Following US President Joe Biden’s stunning exit from the 2024 presidential race, allies of Israel are looking for clues as to how Vice President Kamala Harris, the new presumptive Democratic nominee, could approach issues affecting the Jewish state if she were to win the White House in November.

Harris’s previous statements reveal a mixed record on Israel, offering signs of both optimism and pessimism to pro-Israel advocates.

Though Harris has voiced support for the Jewish state’s right to existence and self defense, she has also expressed sympathy for far-left narratives that brand Israel as “genocidal.” The vice president has additionally often criticized Israel’s war effort against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

In 2017, while giving a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), then-Senator Harris delivered a 19-minute speech in which she showered praise on Israel, stating that she supports “the United States’ commitment to provide Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade.” Harris stated that America has “shared values” with Israel and that the bond between the two nations is “unbreakable.”

In 2020, while giving another speech to AIPAC, Harris emphasized that US support for Israel must remain “rock solid” and noted that Hamas “maintains its control of Gaza and fires rockets.”

Despite such statements of support, however, Harris has previously exhibited a degree of patience for those who make baseless smears against Israel. 

In October 2021, when confronted by a George Mason University student who angrily accused Israel of committing “ethnic genocide” against Palestinians, Harris quietly nodded along and then praised the student. 

“And again, this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard,” Harris told the student. 

Following Hamas’ slaughter of 1,200 people and kidnapping of 250 others across southern Israel on Oct. 7, Harris has shown inconsistent support for the Jewish state. Although she initially backed Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas’ terrorism, she has also levied sharp criticism against the Jewish state’s ensuing war effort in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

During a call with then-Israeli war cabinet leader Benny Gantz earlier this year, Harris suggested that the Jewish state has recklessly imperiled the lives of Palestinian civilians while targeting Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

“Far too many Palestinian civilians, innocent civilians have been killed,” Harris said. 

The same month, while delivering a speech commemorating the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, Harris called the conditions in Gaza “devastating.”

“And given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks,” Harris said.

While speaking with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover in April, Harris shared “deep concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and discussed steps to increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians and ensure its safe distribution.”

Harris also pushed the unsubstantiated narrative that Israel has intentionally withheld aid from the people of Gaza, triggering a famine. 

“People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane. And our common humanity compels us to act,” Harris said. “The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid.”

The United Nations Famine Review Committee (FRC), a panel of experts in international food security and nutrition, released a report in June arguing that there is not enough “supporting evidence” to suggest that a famine has occurred in Gaza.

Harris has also expressed sympathy for anti-Israel protesters on US university campuses. In an interview published earlier this month, Harris said that college students protesting Israel’s defensive military efforts against Hamas are “showing exactly what the human emotion should be.”

“There are things some of the protesters are saying that I absolutely reject, so I don’t mean to wholesale endorse their points,” she added. “But we have to navigate it. I understand the emotion behind it.”

Some indicators suggest that Harris could adopt a more antagonistic approach to the Jewish state than Biden. For example, Harris urged the White House to be more “sympathetic” toward Palestinians and take a “tougher” stance against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Politico report in December. In March, White House aides forced Harris to tone down a speech that was too tough on Israel, according to NBC News.

Later, she did not rule out “consequences” for Israel if it launched a large-scale military offensive to root out Hamas battalions in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, citing humanitarian concerns for the civilian population.

Harris initially called for an “immediate ceasefire” before Biden and has often used more pointed language when discussing the war, Israel, and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. However, her advisers have sought to downplay the notion that she may be tougher on the Jewish state.

“The difference is not in substance but probably in tone,” one of Harris’s advisers told The Nation.

Meanwhile, Halie Soifer, who served as national security adviser to Harris during the then-senator’s first two years in Congress, said the current vice president’s support for Israel has been just as strong as Biden’s. “There really has been no daylight to be found” between the two, she told Reuters.

Still, Biden, 81, has a decades-long history of maintaining relationships with Israeli leaders and recently called himself a “Zionist.” Harris, 59, does not have such a connection to the Jewish state and maintains closer ties to Democratic progressives, many of whom have increasingly called for the US to turn away — or at least adopt a tougher approach toward — Israel

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested that Harris would be a far less reliable ally than Biden, pointing to her ideological alignment with the most progressive lawmakers in Congress. 

“Biden made many mistakes regarding Israel, but he is miles ahead of Harris in terms of support for Israel,” Friedman told The Jerusalem Post. “She is on the fringe of the progressive wing of the party, which sympathizes more with the Palestinian cause.”

“This will move Jewish voters to the Republican side,” the former ambassador argued. “Harris lacks any affinity for Israel, and the Democratic Convention will highlight this contrast. This could lead to a historic shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.”

Meanwhile, J Street, a progressive Zionist organization, eagerly endorsed Harris the day after Biden dropped out of the presidential race, citing her “nuanced, balanced approach” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflictt.

“Kamala Harris has been a powerful advocate for J Street’s values in the White House, from the fight against antisemitism to the need for a nuanced, balanced approach on Israel-Palestine,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. “She’s been a steadfast supporter of hostage families and Israel’s security, while also being a leading voice for the protection of Palestinian civilians and the need to secure an urgent ceasefire.”

The post Kamala Harris’s Record on Israel Raises Questions About Support for Jewish State if Elected US President first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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US House Speaker Mike Johnson Blasts Kamala Harris for Skipping Netanyahu Address

US House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks to members of the media at the Capitol building, April 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

US House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) on Tuesday slammed Vice President Kamala Harris over her decision not to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint session of the US Congress.

“It has never been more important than it is right now for us to stand with our closest ally in the Middle East,” Johnson told reporters at the US Capitol, arguing it is “inexcusable” and “outrageous” that Harris is “boycotting” Netanyahu’s speech.

“This is a historic moment,” Johnson continued. “It is an important moment for the country, for all the reasons we’ve said. The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated, and yet Kamala Harris will abandon her seat. As you all know, as the vice president and serving as the president of the Senate, she is supposed to be seated next to me in the rostrum. She will not be there, because she refuses to attend.”

Johnson stated Harris needs to be “held accountable” for skipping Netanyahu’s address and that “she needs to be asked very searing questions” about her absence. 

The top-ranking House Republican lamented that several high-profile Democrats have declined the opportunity to preside over Netanyahu’s upcoming address, accusing the party of making “political calculations when our ally [Israel] is in such dire straits, fighting for its very survival and fighting back against the horrific attack in October.”

The White House announced that Harris would not attend Netanyahu’s speech, citing a prior commitment. Instead of presiding over the address, the vice president will attend a convention honoring the Zeta Phi Beta sorority in Indianapolis.

However, Harris will reportedly meet with Netanyahu at the White House this week. The vice president is expected to have a “frank” conversation with Netanyahu in which she will demand that Israel finish its ongoing war against the Islamist terrorist group Hamas in Gaza and improve conditions for Palestinians, according to Politico

The Jewish state has insisted that it will not stop its military operations until Hamas, which launched the war in Gaza with its Oct. 7 invasion of and massacre across southern Israel,  has been dismantled and the hostages kidnapped by the terrorist group during its onslaught are freed. Israeli officials have insisted that they have allowed a significant amount of humanitarian aid into Gaza during its military campaign. Last month, a UN panel of experts cast doubt on the notion that Hamas-ruled Gaza is suffering through a famine, despite many critics of Israel arguing the opposite.

US Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will preside over Netanyahu’s address in place of Harris. Notably, Cardin is retiring from the Senate, suggesting that the senator faces little political consequence from attending Netanyahu’s address at a time when progressives within the Democratic Party have become increasingly outspoken against the Jewish state.

US President Joe Biden will meet with Netanyahu on Thursday separate from the Israeli premier’s meeting with Harris. The two leaders were initially scheduled to meet on Tuesday, but Biden was still recovering from COVID-19. In a statement, Netanyahu said that he plans on thanking Biden for his assistance to Israel during his term in office. 

Netanyahu will reportedly also meet with former US President Donald Trump on Friday. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is the current favorite to win the White House in November. 

“Looking forward to welcoming Bibi Netanyahu at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “During my first term, we had Peace and Stability in the Region, even signing the historic Abraham Accords — And we will have it again.”

Republicans featured the issues of the Israel-Hamas war and surging antisemitism on college campuses during last week’s Republican National Convention. During his speech, Trump promised that he would resolve the war in Gaza upon his return to the Oval Office. The Republican nominee and former president chided Biden during their most recent debate for supposedly being too sympathetic to Palestinians. 

During Trump’s single term in office, he and Netanyahu enjoyed a productive working relationship. Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; cut aid to UNRWA, the controversial United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees; and helped facilitate the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel’s relations with several Arab countries. He also recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic region on Israel’s northern border previously controlled by Syria.

However, Trump and Netanyahu’s relationship soured after the Israeli prime minister congratulated Biden and Harris for winning the US 2020 presidential race, refusing to indulge the former president’s unsubstantiated assertions that the election was “stolen” from him. Trump also criticized Netanyahu and Israel’s intelligence agencies for not preventing the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on the Jewish state.

This week’s meeting could allow Netanyahu a chance to give his relationship with Trump a fresh reboot.

The post US House Speaker Mike Johnson Blasts Kamala Harris for Skipping Netanyahu Address first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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