As 13 of the Israeli hostages seized by Hamas during its Oct. 7 pogrom arrived in Egypt on Friday, the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist organization taunted the Jewish state in a televised address, saying it had been forced into the Qatari-brokered ceasefire deal by its supposed military failures.
“Had it not been for the losses on the battlefield, the Zionist regime would not have agreed to the ceasefire agreement and the exchange of prisoners,” PIJ secretary-general Ziyad Nakhalah said in the broadcast, according to reports in the official media of the Iranian regime, the terror group’s main sponsor.
He warned that Palestinian terrorist groups would “force the Zionist enemy to exchange all the prisoners on a wider scale.”
Nakhalah appeared to pour cold water on the prospect of further releases of the more than 240 hostages captured during last month’s pogrom. “The rest of the enemy’s prisoners including officers and soldiers will not be released without the release of the rest of our prisoners, and this issue is related to the end of the war and aggression,” he said.
“The enemy’s goals of ending the resistance and crushing it are still in place, so we must continue the battle to neutralize the enemy’s goals. The Zionist enemy will continue its aggression more brutally,” Nakhalah emphasized.
Nakhalah was first elected to head PIJ in 2018, four years after he was officially designated as a terrorist by the US State Department. He was reelected to the helm of the terror organization in February this year.
PIJ terrorists participated with Hamas in the Oct. 7 atrocities, which resulted in the murder of more than 1,200 people, mass rapes, and kidnappings. While PIJ disagrees with Hamas on aspects of their confrontation with Israel, the two groups coordinate on military attacks and are both rooted in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organization.
In the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 pogrom, Nakhalah received a phone call from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who congratulated him on the “brilliant and impressive victories of the Palestinian resistance.”
“You really made the Islamic community happy with this innovative and victorious operation,” Raisi said. “The Zionist regime is declining while the resistance front is conquering the peaks of victory.”
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Top IDF Brass Blindsided by UNRWA Fallout
i24 News – Senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) command was caught off guard by the speed with which the allegations implicating UNRWA staffers in the October 7 atrocities became public knowledge, according to a New York Times report published Saturday.
When, on January 18, UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini sat down with senior Israeli diplomat Amir Weissbrod in Tel Aviv for a routine meeting, the UN official was supplied with intelligence about the agency employees’ involvement in the massacre.
While the intelligence was provided by the IDF, the military establishment didn’t expect the explosive information to leak into the public domain. It emerged that Lazzarini relayed the allegations to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and began firing employees, eventually reporting the developments to U.S. officials.
Unnamed IDF officials cited in the NYT report were concerned that the allegations had been disseminated without Israel having devised a proper strategy for the fallout.
European countries, from the UK to Germany, as well as the United States, Canada and Australia all froze funding to UNRWA amid reviews in the aid agency and its employees.
While some have pushed for a complete shutdown of the agency, including U.S. lawmakers and Israeli ministers, others — including unnamed senior IDF officials — have said that it was inadvisable to do so during the war when UNRWA was providing needed humanitarian aid.
Hamas Turns Down Hostage Deal, Demands Israel Release More Terrorists
i24 News – Hamas on Sunday said it rejected the proposed hostage deal formulated in Paris, demanding that Israel release more Palestinian terrorists locked up in Israeli jails, according to a Saudi outlet.
There are 136 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian jihadists, abducted during the October 7 incursion and massacre.
The statement comes hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated Israel had “red lines” which could not be crossed.
Thus, the leader said, Israel will not end the war until all its goals are met, namely “the eradication of Hamas, the rescue of all our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to Israel.”
“We will not agree to every deal, and not at any price,” he said, adding reports in the local media whereby Israel agreed to freeing large numbers of terrorists were not true.
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Dennis Ross Is Blaming Israel Again
JNS.org – Former U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross just can’t stop blaming Israel.
Speaking via Zoom for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy on Jan. 31, Ross offered some expected, perfunctory criticism of Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah. But again and again, he managed to bring in one-sided and unfair criticism of Israel.
Referring to Israel’s counter-terrorism actions in Judea and Samaria, Ross said: “West Bank violence [by Arabs] is not disconnected from Israel’s policies in the West Bank.”
That’s just absurd. The terrorists are not responding to Israeli policies. They were murdering Jews long before there were any settlements or so-called occupied territories. They oppose Israel’s existence, not its borders. It’s these terrorists who are the aggressors, and Israelis must respond to them.
Regarding Gaza, Ross said: “The Israelis haven’t done everything they could to spare civilians in Gaza.” Is he kidding? The Israelis have refrained from striking terrorist targets where there are civilians. They have personally warned civilians to evacuate, again and again, through leaflets and phone calls and public announcements. They have risked the lives of their own soldiers by going house to house, instead of just bombing from the air. What else can they possibly do?
Ross also commented on the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice—the ruling that failed to condemn Hamas and demanded that Israel give more aid to Palestinians in Gaza. He said the ruling was “not irresponsible” and that it was provoked by “extreme statements by Israeli politicians.” That’s simply nonsense. The statement that the court cited most prominently was made by Israel’s left-leaning president, Isaac Herzog, who said that many ordinary Gazans supported the Hamas massacre, which was a perfectly reasonable statement of fact.
The practice of saying a few perfunctory crucial words about terrorists and then “balancing” it with criticism of Israel is typical of the grotesque “even-handedness” that Ross and his colleagues pushed during his many years at the U.S. State Department.
That approach was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. There can be no “balance” between good and evil. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not on the same moral level. Israel is America’s loyal, reliable, democratic ally. The P.A. is a terror-sponsoring, hate-mongering dictatorship.
In recent months, Ross has been saying that Israel should allow the Hamas leadership to leave Gaza in exchange for the release of the remaining hostages. He points to Israel’s decision in 1982, under U.S. pressure, to allow PLO chief Yasser Arafat and thousands of PLO terrorists to leave besieged Beirut.
But Ross never mentions what happened after Arafat left. He didn’t retire. He set up PLO terrorist headquarters in Tunisia, and then 20 additional years of terrorism followed—suicide bombings, intifadas, mass shootings, stabbings. Ross’s new plan would have the same result.
This is the same Dennis Ross who has acknowledged—on the op-ed page of The Washington Post in 2014—that he pressured Israel to allow Hamas to import concrete. Ross wrote that the Israelis opposed his demand because they feared that Hamas would use the cement to build terror tunnels. Ross insisted the concrete would be used to build houses, and because of his pressure, the Israelis gave in. We all know the result.
In his Zoom talk this week, Ross had the chutzpah to mention that Hamas used imported cement to build tunnels instead of homes, though never mentioned that he was the one who helped them to get that cement into Gaza in the first place.
Ross is frequently quoted in The New York Times and invited to appear on television shows and webinars. He’s treated as if his past involvement in Mideast diplomacy makes him an expert on how to make peace today. Yet every one of those diplomatic efforts failed. He has never facilitated real peace because he continues to pretend that both sides are to blame for the absence of peace.
The Jewish world is full of talented speakers, thinkers and writers. Surely, our institutions should be able to find more thoughtful lecturers than those same tired, old critics of Israel with their familiar and disastrous proposals.