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‘It Is in America’s Interest to See Hamas Crushed’: Experts on Why a Rafah Operation Is Necessary

Israeli soldiers operate at the Shajaiya district of Gaza city amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, Dec. 8, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Yossi Zeliger

Israel must operate in Rafah, Hamas’ last stronghold, if it wishes to achieve its war objective of eliminating the threat posed by the Palestinian terrorist group, according to experts who spoke with The Algemeiner.

The United States has been pressuring Israel not to move forward with full-scale military action in the southern Gaza city, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that “we are determined to do this.”

Max Abrahms, a tenured professor of international relations at Northeastern University and a consultant to US government agencies, told The Algemeiner that it is “imperative for the Israel Defense Forces to go into Rafah.”

There are a few reasons for this, he explained. One is that, because there are substantial numbers of Hamas terrorists and leaders in Rafah, an operation is the only way for Israel to achieve its war goals of destroying the Islamist group. “Obviously, Israel could take them out with air power alone,” he said, “but the civilian toll would be prohibitive. It is both more effective and humanitarian to deploy boots on the ground.”

Another reason is to re-establish deterrence: “Beyond Hamas,” Abrahms explained, “Israel is surrounded by tens of thousands of state-sponsored terrorists when you include those hiding out in Lebanon and the West Bank — not to mention Gaza. Winning the war against Hamas is critical for signaling to other non-state Israeli adversaries and their backers in Doha, Tehran, Ankara, and Sana’a the costs of attacking Jews.”

Since Hamas launched the current war in Gaza with its Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon has been firing rockets at northern Israel daily. Tensions have been escalating between both sides, fueling concerns that the conflict in Hamas-ruled Gaza could escalate into a regional conflict.

Meanwhile, Israel has arrested thousands of wanted terrorists in the West Bank since the start of the war, roughly half of whom are members of Hamas, according to the Israeli military.

And in Yemen, the Houthi rebels since Oct. 7 have been attacking shipping in the Red Sea and targeting Israel in what they say is a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

In such a security environment, Israel’s war is not against just Hamas but Islamist terrorists more broadly, according to experts, who say defeating the former will help combat the latter.

“The same holds true for the broader global jihad. Hamas is on al Qaeda’s side,” Abrahms said. “Indeed, Operation Al Aqsa Flood [Hamas’ name for the terror group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel] breathed new life into the global jihad. A win for Israel is a win for counter-terrorism around the world.”

He pointed out: “This is why it is in America’s interest to see Hamas crushed.”

Abrahms also linked an operation in Rafah to the release of the remaining hostages seized by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Even though “some commentators have suggested that negotiations [for the hostages] in lieu of military force are more effective for bargaining,” he acknowledged, “this perspective is deracinated from the international relations literature, which emphasizes in the bargaining literature that threats of force are an important part of bargaining processes.”

“The specter of full-scale defeat is the best motivator for Hamas to relinquish the hostages,” he argued.

Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former White House deputy national security adviser, agreed.

“In the end, if Hamas survives as a fighting force and government it wins the war,” he told The Algemeiner. “Israel is rightly unwilling to contemplate such an outcome. But there are four enlarged Hamas divisions in Rafah, and if they are not destroyed that is the real outcome of the whole conflict: a Hamas victory. This is why Israel must eventually go into Rafah.”

The primary objection to an Israeli operation is that it will make an already dire humanitarian situation worse. US President Joe Biden said he has “deep concern” over such a prospect. Over a million Gazans are currently in Rafah — a city that usually is home to just a few hundred thousand people. Getting access to food and medical care in Gaza has become extremely difficult, bordering on impossible in some cases.

Abrams acknowledged that the battle in Rafah “requires allowing Gazans to move away, whether to northern Gaza or other parts of southern Gaza.” He said if this does not happen, then “it will be impossible for Israel to fight effectively.”

It would also likely result in many civilian casualties.

Consequently, Abrams explained, “the discussions between the United States and Israel should focus on exactly this: how to provide other refuges for Gazans now in Rafah. This will likely require provision of tent cities and other new (perhaps prefab) housing, and food, at locations outside Rafah.”

Reports indicate Israel and the US are currently discussing how exactly to approach a Rafah operation.

Amid these discussions, and continued pressure on Israel by the US not to move forward with an operation, former US Ambassador to the United Nations and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote this week: “The critical question is whether Biden agrees that Israel’s legitimate right of self-defense includes its clearly-stated objective of eliminating Hamas’ military and political capabilities.”

He advised that “this is not the time for the United States to show weakness, especially at the UN.”

Bolton explained why by pointing to a larger goal than just defeating Hamas, arguing, “Victory there could be a decisive turning point in the struggle against the ultimate aggressor: Iran.”

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran, which for years has provided the terrorist groups with arms, funding, and training. The Iranian regime also supports the Houthis, whose slogan is “death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory to Islam.”

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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