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Report of Israeli Hostage Family’s Deaths Overshadows Negotiations on Gaza Truce as IDF Investigates Hamas Claim

People hold an Israeli flag as a helicopter carrying hostages released amid a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel arrives at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv district, Israel, Nov. 28, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas to extend the Gaza truce were overshadowed at the last minute on Wednesday by an unconfirmed claim by the Palestinian terror group that a family of Israeli hostages including a 10-month old baby had been killed.

Shortly before the final release of women and children hostages scheduled under the truce, the military wing of Hamas said the youngest hostage, baby Kfir Bibas, had been killed in an earlier Israeli bombing, along with his four-year-old brother Ariel and their mother. Their father, who has also been held, was not mentioned in the statement.

Israeli officials said they were checking the Hamas claim, a highly emotive issue in Israel where the family is among the highest-profile civilian hostages yet to be freed.

“The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is assessing the accuracy of the information,” the military said in a statement which added that it held Hamas responsible for the safety of all the hostages in Gaza.

Relatives had issued a special appeal for the family’s freedom after the children and their parents were excluded from the penultimate group freed on Tuesday.

An Israeli official said it would be impossible to extend the ceasefire, due to lapse on Thursday morning, without a commitment to release all women and children among the hostages. The official said Israel believed terrorists were still holding enough women and children to prolong the truce by 2-3 days.

Egyptian security sources also said negotiators believed a two-day extension was possible.

Families of those Israeli hostages due to be released later on Wednesday had already been informed earlier of their names, the final group to be freed under the truce unless negotiators succeeded in extending it. Officials did not say at the time whether that included the Bibas family.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers published a list of 15 women and 15 teenage Palestinians to be released from Israeli jails in return for the hostages released on Wednesday. The hostages were seized by terrorists in their deadly raid on Israel on Oct. 7.

For the first time since the truce began, the list of Palestinians to be freed included Palestinian citizens of Israel.

So far Gaza terrorists have freed 60 Israeli women and children from among 240 hostages, under the deal that secured the war’s first truce. Twenty-one foreigners, mainly Thai farmworkers, were also freed under separate parallel deals. In return, Israel has released 180 Palestinian security detainees, all women and teenagers.

The initial four-day truce was extended by 48 hours from Tuesday, and Israel says it would be willing to prolong it further for as long as Hamas frees 10 hostages a day. But with fewer women and children still in captivity, that could mean agreeing to terms governing the release of at least some Israeli men for the first time.

A Palestinian official said negotiators were hammering out whether Israeli men would be released on different terms than the exchange for three Palestinian detainees each that had previously applied to the women and children.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said Israel would consider any serious proposal, though he declined to provide further details.

“We are doing everything we can in order to get those hostages out. Nothing is confirmed until it is confirmed,” Levy told reporters in Tel Aviv. “We’re talking about very sensitive negotiations in which human lives hang in the balance.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his earlier pledges to pursue the war to annihilate Hamas, once the ceasefire lapses.

“There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end. This is my policy, the entire cabinet stands behind it, the entire government stands behind it, the soldiers stand behind it, the people stand behind it — this is exactly what we will do,” he said in a statement.

Tuesday’s release also included for the first time hostages held by Islamic Jihad, a separate Palestinian terror group, as well as by Hamas itself. The ability of Hamas to secure the release of hostages held by other factions had been an issue in earlier talks.

The truce has brought the first respite to a war launched by Hamas-led terrorists with their “Black Shabbat” raid in which they killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, on the Jewish day of rest, according to Israel‘s tally.

Israel responded with a military campaign of air strikes and ground operations against Hamas targets in Gaza, with the stated goal of destroying the terror group. According to Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza, thousands of people have been killed in the Palestinian enclave during the campaign, although experts have cast doubt on the reliability of casualty numbers coming out of Gaza.

The post Report of Israeli Hostage Family’s Deaths Overshadows Negotiations on Gaza Truce as IDF Investigates Hamas Claim first appeared on

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Triggered by houndstooth: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on keffiyehs and the reactions they inspire

I have read (and doubtless written) a lot of nonsense in my day, but nothing has ever quite reached the level of Dave Zirin’s hot take at The Nation about singer Kiana Ledé’s keffiyeh-style garment. Ledé performed the U.S. national anthem at the 2024 National Hockey League All-Star Game in Toronto in the garment, and […]

The post Triggered by houndstooth: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on keffiyehs and the reactions they inspire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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PA Daily: Hamas Shouldn’t Release 130+ Israeli Hostages Without Release of All 9,000 Terrorist Prisoners

A dinner table is set with empty chairs that symbolically represent hostages and missing people with families that are waiting for them to come home, following a deadly infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 20, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Janis Laizans

The official Palestinian Authority (PA) daily is calling on Hamas not to release the more than 130 kidnapped Israeli hostages unless Israel releases all the 9,000 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.

The PA daily editorial is demanding Hamas insist on the release of all the mass murderers, which includes terrorists like Abdallah Barghouti, the Hamas bomb builder responsible for the murder of 67 people, and Abbas Al-Sayid, who is serving 35 life sentences for planning the suicide bombing at the Passover Seder in Netanya in 2002, and others who together have killed thousands of Israelis.

According to the PA daily, to release the more than 130 Israeli hostages without the release of all these terrorist murderers, whom the PA calls “prisoners of freedom,” would be a crime.

All members of the Israeli government and all Israeli negotiators have ruled this option out. Many of the 1,027 terrorists released by Israel in exchange for Israeli soldier hostage Gilad Shalit in 2011 went on to murder again, and others became the leaders of Hamas who planned and executed years of terror including the October 7 atrocities. The Israeli army is fighting to destroy the Hamas leadership in Gaza. It will all have been for nothing if Israel releases the imprisoned Hamas terrorist murderers who will become the new leaders and will rebuild the terror organization.

Unfortunately, the greater the public pressure from Palestinians on Hamas to insist on the release of 9,000 terrorists from prison, the harder it will be for Hamas to compromise and release the Israeli hostages for a smaller number of terrorists.

The PA daily may be pressuring Hamas to demand what Israel cannot agree to, in order to undermine negotiations. Any successful exchange that releases a significant number of Palestinian prisoners will raise Hamas’ popularity. It is possible that the PA daily is warning Hamas that it will be a “crime” not to have 9,000 terrorist prisoners released for the hostages, because it knows that this demand is not achievable.

The following is from the editorial in the official PA daily.

This [prisoners’] front … necessitates raising our voices for the immediate release of all the prisoners [i.e., imprisoned Palestinian terrorists]. Those who are conducting negotiations for prisoner exchanges [i.e., Israel’s kidnapped hostages in exchange for Palestinian terrorists] must not compromise on the release of all the prisoners of freedom without any exception. And if it should happen that someone from among the resistance wings, and especially the Hamas Movement, who claims that he wants to release all [the prisoners] for all [the hostages], should concede, he will commit a crime against the prisoners of freedom.

[Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 8, 2024]

The article’s author, Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, is also a former PLO Central Council member.

The author is the founder and executive director of Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.

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UNC Professors Are Indoctrinating Students with Anti-Israel Rhetoric and Coursework

Students sit on the steps of Wilson Library on the campus of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, US, Sept. 20, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Nadia Yaqub, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), emailed campus leadership and colleagues on Oct. 14 to inform them that the Oct. 7 atrocities Hamas committed were “provoked” by Israel, in her view.

Yaqub also chastised then-UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz for issuing a campus statement the day before in which he wrote, “The senseless acts of terror in Israel by Hamas are horrifying. I condemn this terrible violence.”

Yaqub told the Chancellor that she was “disappointed and discouraged by what you wrote.” Yaqub continued, saying she had “warned” the Chancellor a week before about issuing such a statement.

On Nov. 28, I attended an event at UNC titled “No Peace Without Justice: A Round-Table Talk about Social Justice in Palestine.” A speaker — Rania Masri — boasted that Oct. 7 was a “beautiful day.” In January, Yaqub spoke at a UNC Faculty Council meeting to oppose a resolution, titled “Condemning Antisemitism on Campus,” that sought to rebuke Masri’s remarks. To the dismay of the Jewish community and many UNC faculty, the resolution did not pass.

Yaqub told Inside Higher Ed that she did not believe that Masri’s comments were “objectively antisemitic,” and that “what actually happened on that day [Oct. 7], and who actually committed what, is still very unclear.”

A source sent me the first page of what appears to be Yaqub’s current syllabus for ARAB 151 — Arabic Literature Through the Ages. The syllabus states, “In light of the extraordinary violence being brought to bear against Palestinians living under Israeli occupation since October 7 and the shockingly callous position the United States government has taken vis-à-vis that violence, it is incumbent on us to educate ourselves about all aspects of the Palestinian condition.”

It seems Yaqub intends to use an Arabic literature class at a public university to focus on condemning Israel and the United States.

I requested a copy of the full syllabus from UNC using a public records request. My request was declined, saying the syllabus is Yaqub’s “intellectual property.”

Reviews posted at Rate My Professors state that Yaqub “presents Israel as this cartoon-ish villain … and basically says ‘Israel bad, Palestine good,’” and that she “has a notable bias towards Palestine.”

In other UNC news, a campus panel titled “News Media Frameworks for Israel/Palestine” is scheduled for Feb. 16. All five speakers are well known anti-Israel activists.

Four speakers — Amahl Bishara, Dina Matar, Rebecca Stein, and Helga Tawil-Souri — signed a 2021 statement pledging to promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel “in the classroom and on campus.”

The fifth scheduled speaker — Michael Palm — signed a 2021 statement saying, “We acknowledge our complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians,” and “express our solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Five UNC departments and institutes are sponsoring the event: the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Departments of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies and Communication, and the Curriculums in Global Studies and Peace, War, & Defense.

In the Asian & Middle Eastern Studies Department, three top administrators signed the 2021 statement condemning Israel’s “oppression” of the Palestinian people: Chair Morgan Pitelka, Associate Chair Robin Visser, and Director of Graduate Studies Yaron Shemer. Two administrators in the Curriculum in Global Studies also signed the statement: Chair Banu Gökariksel and Director of Internships & Diversity Liaison, Michal Osterweil.

This planned event raises a simple question: Are multiple UNC departments planning to defy North Carolina law that requires the university to be institutionally neutral “on the political controversies of the day”?

In November, UNC’s chancellor and provost issued a statement reminding the campus community of the university’s supposed commitment to “institutional neutrality.” Yet it seems that multiple campus departments and institutes are ignoring or spurning this reminder.

In October, UNC’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies published a “Solidarity Statement” with Palestinians, which was condemned and eventually removed from their website for lacking institutional neutrality. The notorious Nov. 28 event featured a panel of anti-Israel activists without a single pro-Israel or even neutral voice. The upcoming Feb. 16 event appears to promise more of the same.

It seems that university department heads and professors have forgotten or are unaware that UNC also signed a Resolution Agreement with the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights that it will “take all steps reasonably designed to ensure that students enrolled in the University are not subjected to a hostile environment.”

The UNC Charlotte website explains, “The goal of institutional neutrality is to promote the open exchange of ideas on campus by ensuring that schools don’t inhibit dissenting opinions.”

At the Nov. 28 event, not only were all the speakers anti-Israel activists, but the audience was not permitted to ask questions. Dissenting opinions were not invited, included, or allowed.

Why are so many UNC departments afraid to offer students and the community institutionally neutral events where speakers respectfully discuss and debate complex issues from different perspectives?

Instead, UNC is training and indoctrinating generations of students that Israel is evil. When will the legislature and the university demand that UNC departments adhere to institutional neutrality and obey both the law and the agreements for which they are legally liable?

Peter Reitzes writes about issues related to antisemitism and Israel.

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