Connect with us
Israel Bonds RRSP

RSS

Second Hostage-for-Prisoners Release Looms, Egypt Sees ‘Positive Signals’ on Gaza Truce Extension

Aviv Asher, 2,5-year-old, her sister Raz Asher, 4,5-year-old, and mother Doron, react as they meet with Yoni, Raz and Aviv’s father and Doron’s husband, after they returned to Israel to the designated complex at the Schneider Children’s Medical Center, during a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Petah Tikva, Israel, in this handout picture released on November 25, 2023. Photo: Schneider Children’s Medical Center Spokesperson/Handout via REUTERS.

Hamas was expected to release a second group of Israelis on Saturday under a deal to allow an exchange of 50 hostages for Palestinian prisoners, and Egypt indicated the four-day truce could be extended by one or two days.

An Israeli military spokesman told French TV BFM that, barring last minute changes, 13 Israeli hostages were expected to be freed Saturday, while 39 Palestinian prisoners would be released in return.

Earlier, Egyptian security sources had said they had received the names of 14 Israeli women and children from Hamas and were waiting for more details.

Egypt, which controls the Rafah border crossing through which vital aid has resumed passing into the Gaza Strip under the truce accord, also said it had received “positive signals” from all parties over a possible extension of that deal.

Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS), said in a statement Cairo was holding extensive talks with all parties to reach an agreement which would mean “the release of more detainees in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”

Under the existing deal, a total of 50 hostages are to be exchanged for 150 Palestinian prisoners, some of them convicted on weapon charges and violent offenses, over four days. The first exchange took place on Friday.

Among the Israelis freed on Friday after almost 50 days in captivity in Gaza was nine-year-old Ohad Munder, who ran down a hospital corridor in Israel into his father’s open arms, footage released by the hospital showed.

He and three other children released at the same time were in relatively good condition, Gilat Livni, the center’s Director of Pediatrics told reporters.

“I dreamt we came home,” another hostage, four-year-old Raz Asher, said sitting in her father’s arms on a hospital bed after she and her mother and younger sister were freed. “Now the dream came true,” her father, Yoni, replied.

Hamas fighters freed a total of 24 hostages on Friday – 13 Israelis, 10 Thai farm workers and a Filipino – and Israel later released 39 Palestinian women and teenagers from detention.

AID TRUCKS

Both sides have said hostilities would resume as soon as the truce ends, though U.S. President Joe Biden said there was a real chance of extending the truce.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas after its fighters killed 1,200 people and took about 240 hostages after they broke through security barriers around the Gaza Strip and rampaged through Israeli communities around the blockaded enclave.

For many of the 2.3 million people who live in the tiny Gaza Strip, the pause in the near-constant air and artillery strikes has offered a first chance to safely move around, take stock of the devastation, and seek access to aid imports.

“We hope the truce will continue and be permanent, not just four or five days. People cannot pay the cost of this war,” said Ayman Nofal, in a street market in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.

Fifty trucks carrying food, water, shelter equipment, and medical supplies, have been deployed to the northern Gaza Strip and to shelters in non-evacuated areas of the Palestinian enclave, Israel said.

This was the first time since the start of the war that a significant amount of aid was deployed to northern Gaza, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry agency that coordinates with the Palestinians.

‘BREATHE A LITTLE’

A U.N. convoy delivered aid to two shelters for displaced people in northern Gaza for the first time in over a month, the U.N. humanitarian office said.

“We are happy with the truce, it gave the people the opportunity to breathe a little bit,” Palestinian resident Haitham Ahmed said.

Four fuel trucks and four more carrying cooking gas passed through the Rafah crossing into Gaza early on Saturday. Palestinians, suffering acute fuel shortages due to Israel’s blockade of the enclave, stood in long queues to fill their gas cylinders.

But Mohammed Ghandour who waited five hours to fill his cylindrical metal canister, left empty-handed. “I’m now going home without gas,” he said.

Aid groups have also used the temporary truce to evacuate patients and health workers from some northern hospitals that have all but collapsed due to attacks and lack of fuel.

‘STILL AFRAID’

Thailand welcomed the release of 10 of its nationals from Gaza on Friday under a separate track mediated by Egypt and Qatar, and said a further 20 were still behind held. Iran said it helped facilitate that release.

Among those freed was Thai farm worker Vetoon Phoome, whose family thought he had been killed in the Hamas attack seven weeks ago, according to his sister, Roongarun Wichagern.

In Palestinian homes, the joy of being reunited with loved ones was tinged with bitterness. In at least three cases, prior to the prisoners’ release, Israeli police raided their families’ homes in Jerusalem, witnesses said. Police declined to comment.

“There is no real joy, even this little joy we feel as we wait,” said Sawsan Bkeer, the mother of 24-year-old Palestinian Marah Bkeer, jailed for eight years on knife and assault charges in 2015.

Israeli police were seen raiding her Jerusalem home before her daughter’s release.

“We are still afraid to feel happy,” she added.

In Khan Younis, Tahani al-Najjar, a Palestinian woman returning home to find it in ruins, said a pause in the fighting was not enough.

“Tell me what we got out of this truce?” she asked. “What we got out of this truce? You only made our hearts hurt. Do you want to find a solution for us? You should make a permanent truce for us.”

The post Second Hostage-for-Prisoners Release Looms, Egypt Sees ‘Positive Signals’ on Gaza Truce Extension first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

RSS

University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation

Graphic posted on a social media account administered by University of California-Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on February 17, 2024. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Davis (UC Davis) student government passed on Friday legislation adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, (BDS) movement and falsely accusing Israel of genocide.

“This bill prohibits the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS National Committee,” says the measure, titled Senate Bill (SB) #52. “This bill seeks to address the human rights violations of the nation-state and government of Israel and establish a guideline of ethical spending.”

Puma, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney, and Sabra are all named on SJP’s “BDS List.”

Powers enumerated in the bill include veto power over all vendor contracts, which SJP specifically applied to “purchase orders for custom t-shirts,” a provision that may affect pro-Israel groups on campus. Such policies will be guided by a “BDS List” of targeted companies curated by SJP. The language of the legislation gives ASUCD the right to add more.

“No ASUCD funds shall be committed to the purchases of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians,” the bill adds.

A notable provision of the bill regards the charter for the Special Committee on Ethical Standing. It says the committee must be “dissolved” in a year and its”responsibilities” absorbed by UC Davis’ Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, a division of the student government that which describes itself as a special advocacy group for non-white students. The requirement makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice, which, on a college campus, serves as a safeguard against any future attempt to pass legislation proscribing the adoption of BDS.

SJP praised the bill’s passing and signing by ASUCD’s president, Francisco Javier Ojeda.

“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement,” the group said on social media. “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student feeds that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence.”

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California-Davis is one of many SJP chapters that justified Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In a chilling statement posted after the world became aware of the terrorist group’s atrocities on that day, which included hundreds of civilian murders and sexual assaults, the group said “the responsibility for the current escalation of violence is entirely on the Israeli occupation.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters — which have said in their communications that Israeli civilians deserve to be murdered for being “settlers” — lead the way in promoting a campus environment hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel voices. Their aim, the civil rights group explained in an open letter published in December, is to “exclude and marginalize Jewish students,” whom they describe as “oppressors,” and encourage “confrontation” with them.

The ADL has urged colleges and universities to protect Jewish students from the group’s behavior, which, in many cases, has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

Continue Reading

RSS

‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza 

Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden (34) was taken hostage with his wife Shiri (32) and 2 children Kfir (10 months) and Ariel (4), holds with her friend Tal Ulus pictures of them during an interview with Reuters, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The IDF released “horrifying” new footage on Monday showing Israeli hostage Shiri Bibas and her two children flanked by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, filmed shortly after their abduction during the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. 

Captured by surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, the footage shows Bibas wrapped in a sheet and clutching her red-haired sons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir, who was only 9 months old at the time of their abduction, and is the first proof of life since October 7. The children’s father, Yarden Bibas, was separately abducted and his condition remains unknown.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari expressed the military’s deep concerns over Shiri and her children’s fate. 

“Seeing this young mother clutching her babies surrounded by a group of armed terrorists is horrifying and heart wrenching,” he said at a press conference on Monday. 

“Those who have the audacity to question our need to operate in Gaza, but don’t have the basic decency and humanity to demand that Hamas release our hostages first of all, they all should take a good look at this terrified mother, Shiri, clutching her babies,” he said, adding that the IDF would “leave no stone unturned” in returning the hostages. 

The IDF, according to Hagari, lacks sufficient information to ascertain whether they are alive or dead but is “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” The footage was obtained from a Khan Younis military post belonging to the Mujahideen Brigades, a small armed group who are holding Bibas and her children. 

The Bibas family said in a statement that the videos “tore our hearts out.”

“Witnessing Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hellscape, feels unbearable and inhumane,” the family said.  “We’re issuing a desperate call to all the decision-makers in Israel and the world who are involved in the negotiations: Bring them home now. Make it clear to Hamas that kidnapping children is out of bounds.”

The family also called for Shiri and her children to be prioritized in any future hostage release deal with Hamas. 

Hamas had claimed in November that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir were casualties of an IDF strike, a claim the IDF has contested as unverified and said at the time that the claim was part of the terror group’s “cruel and inhuman” psychological warfare. Hamas also released a video of a visibly distressed Yarden Bibas after he had been informed by his captors that his wife and children were killed by the IDF. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the footage as “heartbreaking” and said it “reminds us who we are dealing with — brutal baby kidnappers.”

“We will bring these kidnappers of babies and mothers to justice. They won’t get away with it,” Netanyahu said.

Irit Lahav, spokeswoman for the embattled community of Nir Oz, said that the video “reminds us that we are all held hostage until the return of all the hostages.”

A quarter of Nir Oz’s residents were either kidnapped or murdered on October 7. 

The post ‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza  first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

Continue Reading

RSS

Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College

Illustrative: Pro-Hamas demonstrators are detained by police officers in New York during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Accusations of institutional antisemitism against Middlebury College in Vermont have been lodged in a civil rights complaint filed by StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel.

The complaint, filed with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) argues that high level Middlebury College officials, by refusing to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally, have fostered a “pervasively hostile climate,” which prevents Jewish students from enjoying the full benefits of being a college student at a higher education receiving federal funds, according to the complaint.

A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering. In an email to one Jewish group that planned a vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”

A month later, the administration uncomplainingly accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official, a request which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.

StandWithUs also noted that Middlebury allegedly ignored numerous complaints of antisemitic harassment committed by anti-Zionist groups. After a local Chabad rabbi  wrote to school officials reporting acts of “intimidation,” including preventing Jews from entering the cafeteria, during a “Day of Resistance” event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the school’s associate vice president of safety warned him not to report the incidents to outside law enforcement, saying that doing so would be a “risk to individuals and to our community.” The official also denied being aware of any antisemitic incidents.

“The hostile environment at Middlebury College and the administration’s failure to act to correct it are unacceptable,” Carly Gammill, Director of Legal Strategy at SWU Center for Legal Justice, in a press release issued on Friday. “Too often, when Jewish students raise concerns about antisemitism, they are subjected to administrators who deflect the bigotry at play”

“Jewish students deserve the same level of respect, consideration and lawful response as all minority groups when they report cases of bigotry and discrimination,” Gammill added.

Middlebury also allegedly refused to punish anti-Zionist students for using their social media accounts to publish hate speech. Social media posts that cheered Hamas’ atrocities as “decolonization,” called Jews “colonizers” deserving of being victims of violence, and said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” proliferated in the days and weeks after Oct. 7, but this day, Middlebury has never issued a statement condemning antisemitism.

The Algemeiner has asked Middlebury College to comment on SWU’s allegations.

“Middlebury college has failed egregiously to provide adequate protecting for Jewish students seeking to remedy persistent antisemitic bigotry on campus,” Yael Lerman, SWU director of the Center for Legal Justice said in Friday’s press release. “Middlebury administrators disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules, and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News