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Netanyahu Sets Date for Rafah Offensive: ‘It Will Happen’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jerusalem, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that a date has been set for an Israeli military offensive in Rafah, the Hamas terror group’s last stronghold in Gaza.

“This victory [over Hamas] requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there. It will happen — there is a date,” Netanyahu said in Jerusalem without revealing further details.

The United States has been pressuring Israel not to move forward with a full-scale military operation in the southern Gazan city, where more than a million Gazans are sheltering, expressing concern about the potential for high civilian casualties.

However, Netanyahu has reiterated that “we are determined to do this” regarding a Rafah offensive. Experts recently told The Algemeiner that Israel must operate in Rafah if it wishes to achieve its war objective of eliminating the threat posed by Hamas, which rules Gaza.

US and Israeli officials have been discussing potential options for targeting Hamas in Rafah, where Israel says the Palestinian terrorist group still has four battalions. According to reports, no action is planned until such discussion are concluded, and a potential operation is tied to the resolution of a hostage agreement.

Israel and Hamas sent teams to Egypt on Sunday for talks regarding a ceasefire in Gaza that included Qatari and Egyptian mediators, as well as America’s CIA Director William Burns.

“Today I received a detailed report on the talks in Cairo. We are constantly working to achieve our goals, first and foremost the release of all our hostages and achieving a complete victory over Hamas,” Netanyahu said.

Hamas kidnapped 253 hostages and murdered more than 1,200 people during its Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, launching the current war. Israel responded with a military offensive aimed at freeing all the hostages and incapacitating Hamas to the point that it can longer pose a threat to the Israeli people from Gaza, the Palestinian enclave that borders Israel.

Over the past few months, Hamas has rejected all ceasefire offers, while Israel agreed to a deal that would end fighting for six weeks and release 700 Palestinian terrorists from jail, in exchange for 40 hostages seized during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

Israel has said any truce must include the release of all remaining hostages and be temporary, warning that a long-term truce would allow Hamas to regroup and strengthen its position to continue attacking the Jewish state. Hamas leaders have pledged to carry out massacres against Israel like the one on Oct. 7 “again and again.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has demanded that any truce must include a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

“There is no change in the position of the occupation [Israel] and therefore, there is nothing new in the Cairo talks,” an anonymous Hamas official told Reuters. “There is no progress yet.”

Netanyahu’s latest comments about Rafah came amid rising tensions between Israel and its close ally the US over Gaza.

In a call with Netanyahu last week, US President Joe Biden issued his toughest public rebuke of Israel since its war against Hamas began in the fall, warning that US policy moving forward will be determined by whether Israel takes certain actions to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Other Biden administration similarly threatened to fundamentally change US policy toward Israel and Gaza.

US officials have responded positively to subsequent steps by Israel to increase what was already significant amounts of aid entering Gaza. However, Washington said more aid was needed.

Beyond Netanyahu, other Israeli officials have recently made clear that some kind of operation in Rafah will happen and is essential to achieving the Jewish state’s war aims.

“Hamas has ceased to function as a military organization in most parts of the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told an Israeli parliamentary committee last week.

“Their commanders are hiding in tunnels, they have lost command and control capabilities, [and] the battalion frameworks in most parts of the strip have ceased to function,” Gallant added in comments briefing members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the war in Gaza. “The Hamas brigade in Rafah, however, is still standing, with its four battalions. We will address this soon.”

According to Gallant, continuing to apply military pressure on Hamas is the best way to ensure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza amid ongoing negotiations brokered by Egypt, Qatar, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement.

“Military pressure was and remains the main and most significant element in ensuring the return of the hostages,” he told Israeli lawmakers. “The advanced stage we have reached in dismantling Hamas and the information that we have gained from terrorists empower us at the negotiation table and enable us to make difficult decisions. I am committed to returning all the hostages to their homes.”

The post Netanyahu Sets Date for Rafah Offensive: ‘It Will Happen’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

The post Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

When producers from the New York Times podcast “The Daily” posted on social media looking for “Jewish students who represent a range of feelings and experiences, from being enthusiastically pro Palestinian to enthusiastically pro Israel, and everything in between,” I replied, “This is a trap! They’ll use the ‘pro-Palestinian’ (the polite term they use for the ones who want to wipe Israel off the map) ones to make it sound like the Jewish community is divided and give listeners the illusion that the anti-Israel protests aren’t antisemitic.”

Sure enough, the Times podcast episode that finally aired, headlined, “The Campus Protesters Explain Themselves,” included three students.

Mustafa Yowell, of Irving, Texas, said his mother was from “Nablus, Palestine” and described himself as a Palestinian Arab. He’s a student at the University of Texas, Austin who complained to the Times that “two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers had infiltrated the campus.” By “IDF soldiers” he meant Israeli students at the university who had, like many Israelis, served in the army before college.

The second student interviewed, Elisha Baker, a student at Columbia University, described himself as a proud Zionist and a graduate of Jewish day school.

And the third student, Jasmine Jolly, a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, described herself as the daughter of a Catholic father and “of Ashkenazi descent on my mom’s side.” Jolly showed up at protests with a sign that said “in honor of my Jewish ancestors, I stand with Palestine.” Jolly also chanted “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

“There’s nothing that has come across to me as antisemitic if you are able to pause and remember that Israel is not Jewish people and Zionism is not Jewish people,” Jolly explained to the Times audience.

Jolly read an email from her Jewish grandfather claiming, “Israel is an increasingly apartheid state.”

This is just such a misleading view of reality on campus and in American Jewish life. Even polls like Pew that use an expansive definition of who is Jewish find overwhelming Jewish support for Israel and negligible support for Hamas, including among younger Jews 18 to 34.

In reality, a lot of the anti-Israel protesters aren’t even Palestinians; they are European or Asian students or white or black Americans who either have been brainwashed by their professors or who have underlying, pre-existing antisemitic attitudes. Few of them have been to the Middle East and many of them are ignorant about basic facts about it — remember the Wall Street Journal piece, “From Which River to Which Sea?

“The Daily” episode made it crisply concrete, with the Times representing Jews as being split 50-50, with one normative Jew and one Jew chanting “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” That’s ridiculous, yet a similar approach contaminates other Times coverage of the Jewish community, misleadlingly portraying American Jewry as deeply divided rather than unified around the goals of getting the hostages back, eliminating the threat of Hamas, and making American college campuses safe for Jewish students.

The Times was at this game well before Oct. 7, 2023, proclaiming “the unraveling of American Zionism” and trotting out old chestnuts such as the Reform movement’s Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 and the New York Times‘ favorite Jew, Peter Beinart.

I find myself rolling my eyes at such depictions, but there is clearly some audience for them among the Times readership and top editorial ranks. The Times executive editor, Joe Kahn, told Semafor’s Ben Smith in a May interview, “I’m not an active Jew.” Maybe the New York Times can sell sweatshirts: “Inactive Jew.” Who, exactly, is supposed to find that distinction between “active” and “inactive” Jews reassuring? Maybe they can put it on top of the front page in place of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”: “Edited by someone who wants the public to know he’s not an active Jew.”

Of all the moments to choose to distance oneself publicly from the Jewish people, this is sure quite one to choose.

This “Daily” episode seems calculated to appeal to the inactive Jews, and to others who want justification to believe it’s not antisemitic to set up on Passover and falsely accuse Israel of genocide. It’s nice for the Times to include a Zionist voice on the program, but he wound up sandwiched in between a Palestinian and an “only one solution, intifada revolution” person. It’s fairly typical for the New York Times these days, but it isn’t pretty.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. He also writes at TheEditors.com.

The post ‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in an undated propaganda video released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on May 30, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

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

In the video, Trufanov says he is doing well and criticizes Israel’s prime minister and government in remarks that were likely scripted by his captors.

There was no information about when the video was filmed. However, Trufanov refers to Israel’s decision on May 5 to order the local offices of Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite news network to close, indicating he may have been filmed in the last few weeks.

The latest video came just two days after Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza, released its first video featuring Trufanov.

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 meant to torture the Israeli public, especially the families of the hostages being held in Gaza.

Trufanov’s mother said after the first video was released 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.

“Seeing my Sasha on my TV was very cheering, but it also breaks my heart that he’s still been in captivity for so long,” she said in a video released by the family. “I ask everyone, all the decision-makers: Please do everything, absolutely everything, to bring my son and all the hostages home now.”

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

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

The post Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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