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Unreported Details: Here’s What Is Happening in Gaza Fighting Right Now

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in this handout picture released on March 5, 2024. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Demobilized Israeli reservists who participated in the battles in Gaza City and Khan Yunis said virtually every building they entered either had a weapons cache inside it or was rigged to explode, either via booby-traps designed to be tripped by an unwary soldier or via cameras set up to view the entrance.

According to the soldiers, Hamas fighters would also often move between buildings without weapons to appear like ordinary civilians, then take the weapons cached in the new building, shoot from the windows or a position adjacent to the building, put the weapons back, and again move without weapons to another building.

Fighting in the Khan Yunis area continues as previously described: a deadly form of “hide and seek” through buildings and streets. However, in addition to fighting above-ground battles, Israeli units have apparently begun entering the tunnels under Khan Yunis, and are fighting underground as well. Previously, underground operations were carried out only after an area had been cleared of Hamas, in order to search for information before destroying the tunnels. Now it seems that Israeli troops are advancing underground while fighting continues above-ground.

Israeli forces have gradually moved through more and more of Khan Yunis. Hamas continues to conduct hit-and-run attacks, and hides both underground and inside hospitals. One Israeli effort is to go through the hospitals and other “innocent” facilities like UNRWA buildings. Thus, in Nasser Hospital, the Israelis captured some 200 terrorists, including several staff members who were carrying weapons. A central command post of Hamas was found underneath the UNRWA headquarters building, connected to the electricity of that facility. That command post contained the central computer farm for Hamas’ command network and its central computerized intelligence depository.

A new angle of attack in the area of Khan Yunis is an outflanking move around and into the neighborhood of Hamad.

In northern Gaza, more and more Hamas personnel have appeared in the open following the departure of Israeli forces. They are trying to reorganize and rebuild their infrastructure. The Israeli forces have responded by conducting focused raids with tanks and infantry supported by aircraft and artillery. These raids have netted several dozen Hamas personnel as prisoners, and killed several times that number. The division commander conducting one of the raids stated that at the beginning of the war, three divisions were needed to reach the area in the center of Gaza City at which the raid was aimed, whereas now two battle groups are sufficient.

In southern Gaza, an Israeli special forces unit infiltrated into the heart of Rafah and rescued two kidnappees recently. The withdrawal was contested, and heavy supporting fire was required to evacuate the force and the rescued kidnappees.

Hamas is still firing rockets into Israel, but the frequency and total numbers have dropped. There were only about 165 rockets over the entire month of February, which is roughly equivalent to the daily average during the first weeks of the war.

Among the materiel captured by the IDF from Hamas is a large amount of cash. In the Khan Yunis tunnels alone, approximately $5.5 million in various currencies was found, as well as records indicating that Iran has transferred $150 million to Hamas over the past ten years.

Over the past month, 24 Israeli soldiers were killed and a few hundred wounded (the exact number has not been published). Approximately 3,000 Hamas and other armed groups’ personnel were killed, and a similar number were probably wounded.

In Gaza itself, more Palestinians are criticizing Hamas for initiating this war and are demanding that it surrender the hostages to stop their suffering. As yet, only a small minority are daring to come out in the open, so it is not clear how representative they are of the majority of the population. The general tone is less criticism of Hamas’ goals, and more criticism of its method of achieving them, which has exacted a terrible cost for the general population. There are also social media posts and demonstrations supporting Hamas. Again, it is not clear how much these reflect broad opinion or are organized “by the party.”

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is gradually worsening as the supplies provided by donors are both insufficient and plundered by Hamas. This is one of the reasons for the increasing criticism of Hamas by the Palestinian population.

Many critics claim that Hamas is deliberately depriving the population of the aid. There is mounting pressure on Israel to allow more aid to enter Gaza, but that means the trucks will not be checked diligently enough to prevent weapons and other equipment from being brought in for use by Hamas and the other armed groups. Smuggling from Egyptian territory on trucks and through tunnels was Hamas’ and other groups’ main source of weapons prior to the war. There have also been attempts to smuggle through Israel (in one case a couple of years ago, Israeli security personnel found that a shipment of canned food had electronics for military equipment inside the cans instead of food).

During the current war, Israeli security has found and captured items for military use when searching humanitarian supply trucks.

Two other issues are delaying the transfer of supplies into Gaza:

Egyptian truck drivers are complaining that when their trucks cross the border they are damaged by crowds of Gazans charging them to unload the supplies. More and more drivers are refusing to enter Gaza, and are demanding that Palestinian trucks come to the border and transfer the loads, which of course delays the transport.
Small numbers of Israeli protesters sometimes block the entrances from Israel and demand that the continuance of supplies be conditional on the release of the hostages.

In one incident, in order to prevent Hamas from taking incoming aid supplies, Palestinian civilians broke into the border terminal with Egypt to ransack trucks before they crossed the border. Hamas police opened fire on them, killing a teenager. In response, his family attacked the policemen, killing two of them. Such events have been recurring.

In another incident, a truck driver was killed by stones thrown at him. In another, a crowd charged a moving truck and many were run over. Locals have also reported on social media that trucks passing from southern to northern Gaza to feed the population there were ransacked en route by groups of Palestinians who then sold the goods at the market.

A partial solution has been to parachute in aid. This has its own complications. The first is controlling air traffic over Gaza during combat operations to prevent accidents. Then there is the issue that flying high enough to prevent aircraft being shot down by Hamas means the dispersal of the supplies being dropped is greater (there have been reports of the wind carrying some supplies into the sea and some into Israel). Ensuring that the supplies do not land on the people waiting below means dropping them over empty areas that are harder for the recipients to reach and more difficult to carry back supplies from. Furthermore, Hamas controls travel in the areas not occupied by Israeli forces, so air drops can only partially bypass its control. They cannot prevent Hamas from grabbing the supplies for its own use, just as it does with the truck convoys.

So far most of the air drops have been by the Jordanians flying through Israel, and this past week there was also an American supply drop. Apparently Egypt, Qatar, the Gulf Emirates, and France have also volunteered to send parachuted supplies to Gaza.

A final issue is that parachuted supplies cannot be checked. This is not a problem with the Americans and probably not with some of the Arab states, but Qatar is a supporter of Hamas and has funded it for many years. Any air drops provided by Qatar would be suspect.

Another issue that has appeared on the social media of Gazans is that the aid is not being handed out, but rather sold at exorbitant prices. This means that instead of the aid donated by foreign states and NGOs being treated as donations, Hamas is using it to earn cash at the population’s expense.

The Egyptian army has considerably reinforced its border obstacle with Gaza with concrete walls, barbed-wire fences, and so on to prevent Gazans from moving into Egypt.

Dr. Eado Hecht, a senior research fellow at the BESA Center, is a military analyst focusing mainly on the relationship between military theory, military doctrine, and military practice. He teaches courses on military theory and military history at Bar-Ilan University, Haifa University, and Reichman University and in a variety of courses in the Israel Defense Forces. A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

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

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.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family 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.

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

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

All three 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.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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