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Israel’s Soldiers Vow ‘Never Again’

Armored vehicles of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are seen during their ground operations at a location given as Gaza in this handout image released on Nov. 1, 2023. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

JNS.orgThe seaside Zikim base in southern Israel borders one of the kibbutzim destroyed by Hamas during the Oct. 7 massacre. Tanks, armored vehicles and excavation equipment that unearths terror tunnels roar past, heading for the Gaza Strip. Intense looking boys in uniform go to and fro in apparent chaos. But it is not chaos, it is Israel’s ongoing series of military operations against Hamas.

The paratroopers we meet are finally having a drink. Yesterday, they managed to eat and take a shower after nine days in the Strip, during which they managed to sleep only a few hours on the ground and eat peanuts. What they found in Gaza is now making headlines around the world: Tunnels full of weapons, kindergartens full of missiles, the conquest of the Hamas “parliament,” endless battles with terrorists embedded deep in the civilian population.

Israel is on the march, advancing slowly but steadily into the heart of Hamastan. Now, it is closing in on Hamas’s main headquarters, including beneath hospitals and other civilian sites. Israel tries to protect civilians, but it is clear that the IDF will not allow Hamas’s hideous tactics to work this time. This is war to the finish, and Israel intends to finish it.

The IDF has captured Hamas’s most important bases in northern Gaza following intense battles. It has opened humanitarian corridors to the south for civilians seeking to escape the war zone. It had to do so after Hamas terrorists began killing civilians trying to flee, hoping to use them as human shields instead. Over 45 Israeli soldiers have been killed so far, in addition to the 1,400 murdered and some 240 kidnapped on Oct. 7.

Shon, a 24-year-old soldier, says, “I didn’t have time to call my family. I know I should. We are reserves, but perfectly trained.” When war broke out “I was in Tel Aviv, working in start-ups. But I rushed away as soon as our commander called. We immediately started fighting in the invaded kibbutzim. It’s unspeakable what [Hamas] did to children and families.”

“How do I feel?” he asks. “That we will never let it happen again.”

Irwin, just returned from India, says, “In Gaza, I hope there are normal people. We are here to free them too. We know that we can die, but the purpose is bigger than us. There is no choice. We will not suffer another attack like the one on Oct. 7.”

These soldiers fight out of love their homeland—moledet in Hebrew—for their homes and families; values that are difficult even to pronounce in Europe.

The soldiers’ main target is the crown jewel of Hamas’s terror infrastructure—the tunnels. They have found them littered with the detritus of terror, as well as possessions likely belonging to the hostages, such as baby bottles and diapers, as well as lists of Hamas “guards.”

Now Hamas’s “parliament,” government buildings, police headquarters, and more are in the hands of the IDF.

Daniel, 21, was wounded in the fighting. At Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, this pianist, marksman and nurse recounts, “I found myself naked after the blow that took me in the back and head. Next to me, my best friend was bleeding. Stunned, I heard shouting: ‘Nurse! Nurse!’ But I was the nurse. He was bleeding, we saved him and now he is next to me here in the hospital.”

“I have damage to my ear, my head, I’m burned on my arm and body,” he says, “but I’m dying to get back to my unit. I know I’m needed. We are a single body. We share sleeping bags and the last sandwich.”

Back at Zikim, Shahar, a 30-year-old paratrooper, recounts, “On the seventh, they sent us directly to the kibbutzim. As soon as we arrived in Be’eri, in Alumim, we were hit in the face by the blood, the dead on the ground, the horrors and a huge number of terrorists. I lost a very dear friend of mine there, whose body was found only after a week.”

“Entering Gaza to fight is the most natural thing,” he says. “I was injured in the back and head, but I asked to return as soon as possible. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors, my father fought in the Yom Kippur War. Never again is now—and now, it’s my turn.”

“If we show weakness, Hamas will try to tear us to pieces again,” he asserts. “It makes me angry that the world doesn’t care about us. We do everything to save the civilian population. Hamas uses it as a human shield. My mother takes people from Gaza to hospitals in Israel. We offer incubators to hospitals that hide terrorist leaders. What else do you expect from us?”

The post Israel’s Soldiers Vow ‘Never Again’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Flip through the digital edition of the Summer 2024 print magazine from The Canadian Jewish News

We’ve produced a collection of feature articles four times a year since 2022. A special edition of this magazine will appear in mid-September—with reflections on the Jewish year that was. And in December, look out for a reimagined publication with a name of its own. Get future copies delivered to your door as a thank-you […]

The post Flip through the digital edition of the Summer 2024 print magazine from The Canadian Jewish News appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Top US Official Calls Hamas Leader Sinwar a ‘Psychopath,’ ‘Messianic’ as Ceasefire Talks Swirl

Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, attends a meeting with people at a hall on the seashore in Gaza City. Photo: Yousef Masoud / SOPA Images/Sipa via Reuters Connect

A senior US official said that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is the Palestinian terrorist group’s ultimate decision maker and has little interest in reaching a ceasefire deal with Israel, in testimony before a US Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, there’s one guy 10 stories below the ground: a psychopath, messianic in his own belief that he has established himself in history, and [he believes that] there’s a sunk cost of having lost thousands of fighters and carnage in Gaza,” said Barbara Leaf, the US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs.

Sinwar, the top Hamas official in Gaza and the mastermind behind the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, has reportedly been hiding in Hamas’ extensive network of underground tunnels during Israel’s ongoing military campaign in the coastal enclave.

Leaf’s comments echo others made by Biden administration officials.

In April, a US official told reporters that Sinwar is single-handedly holding up any progress on a potential hostage deal.

The senior Biden administration official said that while Hamas’ political bureau has shown some willingness to compromise on the terrorist group’s most hardline positions, Sinwar’s maximalist demands continuously win out.

“Sinwar has made the decision he’d rather hold [the hostages seized by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7] than secure a ceasefire, and that’s just the truth of the situation,” the official said.

Leaf, in her testimony on Tuesday, said that Qatar — where many top Hamas political officials are based — has been “squeezing” the group — though to little effect, according to a report from Axios.

“There’s a cadre of political officials of Hamas in Doha, and boy do they squeeze them, I can assure you they squeeze them,” Leaf said.

Israel has described Hamas’ response to the new US ceasefire proposal as total rejection. But efforts to secure an agreement are still continuing, according to mediators in Qatar and Egypt, backed by the United States.

The Axios report added that Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani met on Tuesday in Doha — Qatar’s capital — with senior Hamas officials in an attempt to reach a breakthrough in the talks about the hostage and ceasefire deal.

Egypt and Qatar — which along with the United States have been mediating between Hamas and Israel — said on June 11 that they had received a response from the Palestinian groups to the US plan, without giving further details.

The post Top US Official Calls Hamas Leader Sinwar a ‘Psychopath,’ ‘Messianic’ as Ceasefire Talks Swirl first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Blinken Confirms US Pausing Bomb Shipment to Israel After Netanyahu Calls for End to ‘Inconceivable’ Weapons Halt

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken hold a joint news conference in Jerusalem, May 25, 2021. Photo: Menahem Kahana/Pool via REUTERS

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday confirmed the US was still withholding a shipment of bombs to Israel, hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Washington to remove restrictions on arms deliveries to the Jewish state and asserted that the top American diplomat had assured him the Biden administration was working to lift any halts on weapons.

The Biden administration is “continuing to review one shipment that President [Joe] Biden has talked about with regard to 2,000-pound bombs because of our concerns about their use in a densely populated area like Rafah. That remains under review,” Blinken said at a news conference at the US State Department.

However, he added, the administration is committed to making sure “that Israel has what it needs to effectively defend itself.”

Blinken’s remarks came after Netanyahu posted a video online earlier in the day in which he lamented that the US recently paused a weapons shipment to Israel and threatened to block more but said Blinken told him that Washington was seeking to end any halts on arms deliveries.

“When Secretary Blinken was recently here in Israel, we had a candid conversation. I said I deeply appreciated the support the US has given Israel from the beginning of the war,” Netanyahu said.

“But I also said something else. I said it’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel,” he continued. “Israel, America’s closest ally, fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies.”

The Israeli premier then asserted that Blinken told him the issue would be addressed.

“Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks,” Netanyahu said. “I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case. During World War II, Churchill told the US: ‘Give us the tools; we’ll do the job.’ And I say, ‘Give us the tools, and we’ll finish the job much faster.’”

Following Netanyahu’s comments, both the White House and the US State Department refuted his apparent claim that Washington was withholding more than a single shipment of bombs.

“Everything else is moving as it normally would move, and again, with the perspective of making sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against this multiplicity of challenges,” Blinken said.

The White House echoed Blinken’s comments, saying that only one shipment of 2,000-pound bombs had been withheld and nothing else.

“We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “We just don’t.”

Jean-Pierre added that the US and Israel have been having discussions about the release of the shipment but that there was no update at this time.

“There are no other pauses, none,” Jean-Pierre said. “No other pauses or holds in place.”

On Monday, unconfirmed reports in both Israeli and German media said that during Netanyahu’s meeting with Blinken in Jerusalem last week, the Israeli premier urged the US to return the frequency of its arms shipments to the level immediately after Oct. 7, when the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas launched the war in Gaza with its massacre across southern Israel. According to the reports, Blinken said that Washington would remove all restrictions on weapons transfers to Israel in the coming days.

Netanyahu also reportedly warned Blinken that the slowing of aid and the perception of America’s weakened support for Israel benefits Iran and its terrorist proxies across the Middle East, including Hamas, emboldening them to intensify attacks against Israel and potentially resulting in a broader regional war.

The Biden administration has been under intense pressure from Democrats, especially those on the progressive left, to condition if not outright withhold US military support for Israel. Critics of Israel have argued the Israeli military campaign in Gaza has killed too many civilians and led to a humanitarian disaster in the Palestinian enclave. Israel has said Hamas is to blame for starting the war, stealing aid, and intentionally placing its operation centers inside or underneath civilian sites.

Hamas started the war with its surprise invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, when the terrorist group murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped over 250 others as hostages. Israel responded with its ongoing campaign aimed at freeing the hostages and destroying Hamas, which rules Gaza.

In recent months, the Biden administration has become increasingly critical of Israel’s operations both in public and private, pressuring Jerusalem to change its military strategy and seek a ceasefire.

The issue came to a head last month, when Biden announced that it would cease a bomb shipment to Israel and threatened to halt more weapons deliveries if the Israeli army launched an offensive in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza and Hamas’ last major military stronghold.

I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities — that deal with that problem,” Biden told CNN.

Israeli officials and experts have said operating in Rafah is essential to eliminating the last remaining Hamas battalions. Netanyahu said the Jewish state appreciates US support but “will stand alone” if necessary.

The post Blinken Confirms US Pausing Bomb Shipment to Israel After Netanyahu Calls for End to ‘Inconceivable’ Weapons Halt first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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