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‘Our Hands Will Remain on the Trigger,’ Says Hamas in Advance of Gaza Ceasefire

A rocket is fired from a Hamas position towards Israeli troops near Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. Photo: Reuters handout

Ahead of a pause in fighting scheduled to begin on Thursday morning to enable the release of hostages seized by Hamas during its Oct. 7 pogrom in southern Israel, the terrorist group has emphasized its continuing commitment to waging war against the Jewish state.

“As we announce the reaching of the truce agreement, we affirm that our hands will remain on the trigger, and our victorious brigades will remain on the lookout to defend our people and defeat the occupation and aggression,” Hamas said in a statement published on Wednesday by the Iranian regime’s official news agency, IRNA.

The statement added that the agreement instituting a ceasefire in exchange for the release of hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails reflected “the vision of the resistance and its determinants.” Hamas had engaged in negotiations “from a position of steadfastness and strength in the field, despite the occupation’s attempts to prolong and procrastinate the negotiations.”

Under the terms of the agreement, a four-day pause in fighting will be accompanied by the release of 50 of the more than 240 hostages in Hamas captivity in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners. Israeli officials who briefed journalists in Jerusalem on Wednesday said the 50 hostages to be freed were principally mothers, women, and children who would be released in groups of 12 or 13 over a period of four days. For every 10 additional hostages that Hamas releases, Israel will agree to extend the ceasefire by one day.

Media coverage of the deal in Iran — the main backer of Hamas — was overshadowed by reporting of a speech made by the regime’s “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, celebrating the Oct. 7 pogrom as a “knockout blow to the usurping Zionists.”

Addressing a group of Iranian athletes, Khamenei attempted a quip, saying, “If I am going to offer you a breakdown on the recent developments, it goes that the Zionist regime was knocked out in Al-Aqsa Storm,” the name chosen by Hamas for its onslaught.

He then repeated his well-worn prediction that Israel will eventually be eliminated as a sovereign state, irrespective of its military response to Hamas.

“There is nothing more ignominious than what the Zionist regime has perpetrated. The Zionist regime’s heavy defeat will not be compensated by these bombings; such bombardment campaigns will only shorten the life of the occupying regime and this tyranny and cruelty will not go unanswered,” Khamenei declared.

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Treasure Trove: Remembering Yoni Netanyahu, a heroic soldier and leader

Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu was the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. He was the commander of the Entebbe Operation on July 4, 1976 when Israel rescued 102 hostages who had been on a flight hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and ordered to land in Entebbe, Uganda. Yoni was the only Israeli soldier killed in […]

The post Treasure Trove: Remembering Yoni Netanyahu, a heroic soldier and leader appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Pope Condemns Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism Amid New Wave of Attacks Against Jews

Pope Francis waves after delivering his traditional Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi speech to the city and the world from the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, December 25, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Pope Francis condemned all forms of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, labeling them as a “sin against God,” after noticing an increase in attacks against Jews around the world.

“(The Church) rejects every form of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, unequivocally condemning manifestations of hatred towards Jews and Judaism as a sin against God,” the pontiff wrote in a letter to the Jewish population of Israel dated Feb. 2 and made public on Saturday.

“Together with you, we, Catholics, are very concerned about the terrible increase in attacks against Jews around the world. We had hoped that ‘never again’ would be a refrain heard by the new generations,” he added.

The Pope noted that wars and divisions are increasing all over the world “in a sort of piecemeal world war,” hitting the lives of many populations.

Francis, 87, has condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border attack from Gaza into southern Israel. He has also said on several occasions that a two-state solution was needed to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his letter, the pope also called, once again, for the release of those hostages still being held by militants.

He said his heart was torn at the sight of the conflict in the Holy Land and the division and hatred stemming from it, adding that the world was looking at the unfolding of events in the area with “apprehension and pain.”

He assured the Jewish community of his closeness and affection, “particularly (those) consumed by anguish, pain, fear and even anger,” repeating his call for the end of the war.

Francis said he prayed for peace. “My heart is close to you, to the Holy Land, to all the peoples who inhabit it, Israelis and Palestinians, and I pray that the desire for peace may prevail in all.”

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Israel Says It Has Struck More than 50 Hezbollah Targets in Syria Since Oct 7

Israeli soldiers take part in training session near the Israel border with Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, February 1, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Gil Eliyahu/File Photo

The Israeli military said on Saturday that since the outbreak of the Gaza war on Oct. 7 it had struck more than 50 targets in Syria linked to the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

The remarks, in a briefing by chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari that mainly discussed efforts to beat back Hezbollah attacks launched in solidarity with Hamas, were a departure from Israel’s usual reticence about Syria operations.

“Everywhere Hezbollah is, we shall be. We will take action everywhere required in the Middle East,” Hagari said.

Israeli forces have attacked 34,000 Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including 120 border surveillance outposts, 40 caches of missiles and other weaponry and more than 40 command centers, Hagari said. He put the number of enemy dead at more than 200.

Hagari said Israel had deployed three army divisions along its side of the Lebanese border in anticipation of Hezbollah getting involved after Palestinian Hamas launched a shock cross-border attack on Oct. 7, triggering the war in the Gaza Strip.

With tens of thousands of its northern residents having evacuated, Israel has threatened to escalate the Lebanon fighting unless Hezbollah backs off from the border – and has sought Western help in finding a diplomatic solution in Beirut.

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