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Israel At War: Week Thirteen Coverage

TRUSTED ANALYSIS

ISRAEL WAR — TIMELINE

Day 91 — Friday, January 5

Israeli Student Sues Prestigious Art School For Severe Anti-Semitic Harassment


An Israeli student pursuing a masters degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) filed a lawsuit after claiming she faced severe anti-Semitic harassment by peers and a faculty member who targeted her for several weeks.

The plaintiff, Shiran, accuses assistant professor Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi of issuing a new final assignment in a “Materials and Media In Art Therapy” course just 10 days before it was due, an apparent retaliation for her for filing an anti-Semitic harassment complaint.

“The new assignment required Shiran and her classmates to respond to a collection of images allegedly drawn by Palestinian children that depicted Israeli soldiers engaged in brutal violence,” a press release by Much, the law firm representing Shiran stated.

The prompt for the assignment questioned if students could deal with their own “complicated feelings, internalized racism/ableism/homophobia/supremacy and countertransference” and remain professional while working with clients.

Lawyers for Shiran, who The Daily Wire is referring to only by her first name due to concerns for her safety, say the mother of two is the only student in the course from either Israel or territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority, indicating that the prompt was clearly aimed at her.

“In other words, she is the only student for whom the images could be described as ‘too close to home,’ the statement reads. “The other students did not receive a corresponding assignment asking them to respond to images that might ‘upset’ or ‘trigger’ them.”

After Shiran reported the assignment, Yi allegedly continued her targeted harassment of Shiran through class-wide emails and changing grading standards, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on December 22.

The lawsuit accuses the school of violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and is seeking injunctive relief to prevent further discriminating against Jews and Israelis and money for damages and lawyers fees.

The suit claims SAIC cultivated an atmosphere of hostility towards Jews and Israelis, citing an incident in 2018 when a student asked if kosher food would be available in the cafeteria, only to receive a response from the school “that there wouldn’t be and indicated that advertising kosher food may make some students uncomfortable.”

It also describes a time when an anti-Israel teacher of “Philosophies of Sex” cited examples of problematic forms of BDSM including if someone wanted to “‘act out a nazi/Jew scene’ where the nazi says ‘Lick my book you dirty Jew.”

“The professor explained this would be problematic if the submissive was actually Jewish,” the lawsuit states.

More recently, the suit describes anti-Semitic incidents that have taken place following Hamas’s brutal massacre against Israeli civilians on October 7, including a letter written a week after the attack and signed by faculty members who affirmed their “uncompromising solidarity with the Palestinian people in their righteous struggle for self-determination.”

Mika Tosca, an associate professor who was previously employed by the school, was also named in the lawsuit for posting an anti-Semitic message to social media shortly after Hamas’s massacre.

“Israelis are pigs. Savages. Very very bad people. Irredeemable excrement . . . May they all rot in hell,” Tosca wrote.

After seeing Tosca’s hateful social media posts, Shiran sent several emails seeking reassurance about her safety on campus that were ignored by SAIC’s Provost Martin Berger, acting provost Dean Felice Dublon, her department chair, Professor Adelheid Mers, and her program chair and advisor Katherine Marie Kunkel Kamholz.

The lawyers say the administrators and faculty members have not responded to her emails, more than two months later.

Day 91 — Friday, January 5

IDF Destroys Rocket Launch Sites In Khan Younis As Battles Rage In Hamas Stronghold


The IDF says it carried out strikes on more than 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day.

The strikes, carried out by air, sea, and ground forces, hit Hamas command centers, launch positions, weapons depots, and other infrastructure, according to the IDF.

In central Gaza’s al-Bureij, the military says troops of the Border Defense Corps’ 414th Combat Intelligence Collection Unit spotted a group of Hamas operatives attempting to attack an IDF tank.

Troops launched a pursuit after the gunmen used a drone, and the army called in a fighter jet airstrike after the gunmen were spotted fleeing into a building, the IDF says, publishing footage of the strike.

In southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, reservists of the Kiryati Brigade found several rocket launch sites used to fire projectiles at Israel.

The IDF says the troops destroyed the launchers and killed “many” Hamas operatives during several battles in the area.

Day 91 — Friday, January 5

Analysis — Amir Tsarfati: Israelis Are Heartbroken And Wounded… But We Are Not Defeated


Let me tell you that I in no way feel negative about the future of Israel. We are sorrowful, wounded, and heartbroken. But we are not defeated. In fact, it is just the opposite. The Israeli people are filled with a scowling, jaw-clenched determination that should have those who are set on harming us running deeper into their tunnels. The year 2024 will see Israel at peace and without any more fear of what is just on the other side of its borders.

To get there, though, it is going to take another six-to-nine months. That is what the US administration and the United Nations need to understand. Well, maybe not the UN – they’re hopeless. But the pressure and the restrictions that my government is dealing with from Washington is threatening to hobble the effort. How do people not understand that this is not just an anti-terror action? This is an all-out war against a real enemy.

When the Americans and the British bombed Dresden, Germany, in February 1945, there were no restrictions demanding that the 3,900 tons of explosives be precision directed only at military targets. There was no requirement that humanitarian aid be immediately provided as part of the assault. Instead, it was determined that the reward of shortening the war was worth the cost of the devastation. It was the same thinking used to end the War in the Pacific.

But the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are not indiscriminately bombing. In fact, they are doing everything they can to avoid civilian casualties. The war in Gaza could have been completed before the end of October with far fewer Israelis hurt and killed if the IDF didn’t care about civilians. Instead, the military gave up the advantage of surprise in order to warn Gazans to flee areas that would soon be targeted. Also, they limited the size and strength of the ordnance used if civilian targets would be put at great risk.

What does Israel get for their care in the prosecution of the war? The Gazan perpetrators are made victims by the press, and the US administration warns our prime minister that he better stop the “indiscriminate bombings”. Academics, social influencers, protest organizers, and the talking heads on television all agree that the while the Palestinians may have possibly gone a bit overboard in expressing their legitimate rage on October 7, it can certainly be understood after so many years of repression. What ultimately needs to happen to bring peace in the land is summed up in the catchy little phrase, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!” For those of you who may not get what is meant by “free”, just add “Jew-” in front of the word and that should clarify it.

I wish there was a magic wand that Benjamin Netanyahu could wave that would give us peace on all our borders. But that kind of security only comes through perseverance, hard work, and time. Israel is determined to see it through. While I would love to think that Washington will stand with us the whole time, I am not that naïve. But there is a bigger, global entity that I believe is even more important to have as an ally. That is the church. Already, I am seeing cracks in the resolve of the worldwide church when it comes to Israel. Some are condemning the country’s actions. Many more are just ignoring it, afraid to speak of it out loud for fear of offense or reprisals. I call on the church to pray in your services for Israel. I call on the church to pray in groups and as individuals. We show our love for God when we love that which He loves. Please, encourage your pastors to weekly bring the safety of Israel before the One who considers this backslidden nation to be, even now, the apple of His eye.

Day 90 — Thursday, January 4

Following Intelligence From US and Israel, Argentina Detains Mideast Nationals for Alleged Terror Plot Against Jewish Sporting Event

Argentina on Wednesday announced the arrest of three foreign nationals, specifically citizens of Syria and Lebanon, who were suspected of planning a “terrorist act” at the Pan-American Maccabi Games.

Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said her office received intelligence from the U.S. and Israel that led to the December 30 arrest of the three suspects, who were staying at a hotel two blocks from the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. Their proximity to the embassy was concerning because it was the target of an infamous terrorist attack in 1992.

An Iraqi national with allegedly falsified Argentine documents was also arrested outside the Israeli embassy in October after a week of bomb threats were phoned into the embassy.

Bullrich said the suspects were “waiting for a package that came via the delivery system from Yemen,” which she described as a “strong wake-up call,” given that much of Yemen is controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea.

She said the package, which weighed about 35 kilograms (about 77 pounds), had been seized and examined by the authorities.

Bullrich said the detainees’ identities would be kept confidential for the moment because the investigation is under “summary secrecy” orders and because confirming their identities could be difficult. She noted one of the detainees carried “passports of a different nationality” than the one used to gain entry to Argentina.

“If a person has a Syrian passport, a Colombian passport, and a Venezuelan passport and enters with different passports, what is their real identity? What is their nationality?” she wondered.

The Colombian government issued a statement Wednesday, naming one of the detainees as Chassan Naem Chatay, a Colombian citizen by adoption since May 2022. The statement from Colombia said consular assistance would be provided to Chatay but offered no further details about his origins.

Bullrich said the detainees arrived on different flights and were arrested in different locations. One was taken into custody after arriving at Jorge Newbery Airport on a flight from Colombia, one was detained in downtown Buenos Aires, and the third at the nearby town of Avellaneda.

Bullrich said Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei, directed security services to pay special attention to the Pan-American Maccabi Games in light of the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization.

The games, which began on December 27 and run through January 5, are hosted by the Maccabi World Union, the world’s largest Jewish sports and education organization. The annual global Maccabi Games, sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Olympics,” is often the largest sporting event in the world after the Olympic Games.

The organization also hosts regional events, such as the Pan-American and European Maccabi Games. The 2023 Pan-American Maccabi Games brought an estimated 4,000 participants and observers to Buenos Aires from North, Central, and South America. One of the goals of these sporting tournaments is to help young Jews in other countries learn more about Israel and their heritage.

Day 90 — Thursday, January 4

Israel Says Hamas Deployed More Than 170 Children To The Frontlines While Terrorists ‘Hide In Shelters’


Israel [says] Hamas has been training children to join their campaign of terror and has even deployed the youngsters to the frontlines to “deliver messages and ammunitions.”

Israel Defense Force (IDF) released photos Wednesday that show the aspiring child soldiers posing alongside Hamas terrorists while holding semiautomatic weapons and manning deadly rocket launchers.

“Terrorism is not innate, it is learned,” IDF wrote in a post on X, alongside a video of children running through Hamas tunnels.

“During the ongoing war, Hamas has positioned children on the frontlines, sending them to deliver messages and ammunition while its operatives hide in shelters.”

IDF [said] Gazan children are taught in “schools, youth movements, and summer camps” that “killing Jews and Israelis is justified.”

“Hamas runs summer camps, in which the children learn to shoot weapons, attack from a tunnel, fight against tanks and kidnap soldiers. The camps are early stages for military training in Hamas and integration into the military wing,” IDF told Fox News Digital.

The Israeli military also said Gazan children are “trained to fight in tunnels, shoot, and [to] kidnap.” The kids are handed explosives to hide and deliver to Hamas operatives to ambush Israel soldiers.

The footage was reportedly taken in Khan Younis in Gaza, IDF told Fox News.

“The transfer of explosives from place to place in Gaza by children, in vegetable bags and placing them in the Hamas ambushes,” IDF told the outlet. “Also, children are sent to the battlefields after an attack in order to assess the damage and report it to the terrorists who are hiding in shelters.”

IDF [says] that more than 170 minors are working for Hamas and the Islamic Jihad throughout Gaza, it told Fox.

Day 89 — Wednesday, January 3

Analysis — Franklin Graham: If Only The Thousands Of Hamas Sympathizers Could Have Seen What I Saw…


As we begin a new year, storm clouds continue to gather heavily around the world, even darkening our own doorsteps. As I write this, the conflict in Gaza is continuing, and the reverberations are felt across the globe. I was there just before Thanksgiving, and what I saw greatly moved and disturbed me. I visited several kibbutzim that Hamas terrorists had attacked on the morning of Oct. 7, killing men, women and children—even infants.

I walked through some of the homes that had been burned and scarred with hundreds of bullets. I saw craters in the floors where the terrorists had thrown hand grenades, and shrapnel pieces embedded in the walls. It seemed like every demon in hell had been let loose.

I had the privilege of meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He welcomed my prayers for God’s wisdom, guidance, and peace. I also met with a young mother whose husband was murdered by Hamas, and a wife whose husband was taken hostage. They were so traumatized.

If only the thousands of Hamas sympathizers who paraded here at home and other countries could have seen what I saw, perhaps they would realize that Hamas is nothing more than evil, wicked men who are bent on killing as many Jews as they possibly can, ever seeking to eradicate the state of Israel—God’s chosen people, the only democracy in the Middle East and our closest ally. These terrorists are fueled by demonic hatred for the Jewish people.

Day 89 — Wednesday, January 3

Threatening Israel, Nasrallah Says Hezbollah Not Afraid Of War, Will Fight With ‘No Rules’


Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is challenging Israel, saying the Lebanese terror group is not afraid of a fight and saying it will pull no punches if war does break out.

Nasrallah says his organization is not deterred from taking action, pointing derisively at a US warship that left the region and claiming Israel is struggling to make gains in Gaza.

He says Hezbollah’s cross-border shelling of Israel starting on October 8 had prevented a broader bombing campaign by Israel in Gaza, warning that there will be “no ceilings” and “no rules” to his group’s fighting if Israel launches a war on Lebanon.

He accuses Israel of being behind the assassination of Hamas No. 2 Saleh al-Arouri in a Beirut suburb a day earlier, calling it “a major, dangerous crime about which we cannot be silent.”

Addressing Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Nasrallah says Israel “will not succeed in achieving the war’s goals.”

He claims falsely that Israel is hiding thousands of casualties from Hezbollah attacks on the northern border, and that “hundreds of thousands” have left the country since October 7.

Day 89 — Wednesday, January 3

Analysis — Jan Markell: The Day That Changed The World


The world has been in an uncontrollable rage since October 7, 2023. We are witnessing global Israel Derangement Syndrome and renewed anti-Semitism more brutal than the 1930s. And towards whom is the rage directed? Towards those who were invaded, slaughtered, and kept as hostages.

Imagine worldwide hatred against innocent victims and global sympathy for barbarians because Israel supposedly stole land. So, now it is occupied land—the provocation for the deadly pogrom.

God’s land is not occupied territory. Jesus did not live in occupied territory. God owns it (Leviticus 25). He permanently gifted it to the Jews (Genesis 15).

The World Calls Evil Good!

Following the attack, the logic said that sympathy would eventually shift towards those who suffered the unspeakable blow, since many victims were women, children, and the elderly. Apparently not. The world stage featured, over several weeks, millions of people in global demonstrations on behalf of the terrorists—Hamas! Talk about a classic case of calling evil good (Is. 5:20).

For months, the world was given a sickening overdose of, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Participants in global demonstrations appeared to be many mind-numbed young robots, most not knowing any facts on the ground. Facts didn’t matter.

Day 88 — Tuesday, January 2

Claudine Gay Resigns As Harvard President, Claims ‘Racial Animus’ Fueled Criticism


Claudine Gay resigned as president of Harvard University on Tuesday in a letter to the university community, as first reported by the Harvard Crimson.

Gay’s reported resignation comes in the wake of numerous plagiarism allegations as well as her controversial congressional testimony on what Harvard is doing to combat anti-Semitism on campus after Hamas’ attack on Israel


“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president,” Gay said in her resignation letter. “This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries.”

“My deep sense of connection to Harvard and its people has made it all the more painful to witness the tensions and divisions that have riven our community in recent months, weakening the bonds of trust and reciprocity that should be our sources of strength and support in times of crisis,” Gay continued.

Then Gay tried to diminish the allegations against her by claiming “racial animus” had fueled some of the criticism against her.

“Amidst all of this, it has been distressing to have doubts cast on my commitments to confronting hate and upholding scholarly rigor — two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am — and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus,” she wrote.

Gay has been hit with nearly 50 allegations of plagiarism affecting eight of her 17 published works.

One of the scholars Gay is accused of plagiarizing, Vanderbilt University professor Carol Swain, blasted Harvard in late December for how it handled the accusations against Gay.

“I have a problem with the way Harvard has reacted to the entire situation, because it seems like — with the assistance of some of their professors and other elites — they’re trying to redefine what is plagiarism,” she said. “They’re making the argument that there are different levels and, by extension, that some of it is acceptable. That is a problem for higher education in America.”

In December, Gay along with the presidents of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania testified to Congress and avoided answering whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated the universities’ codes of conduct.

“It can be, depending on the context,” Gay told lawmakers. She said such hate speech is “at odds with the values of Harvard” and that when that kind of “speech crosses into conduct, that violates our policies.”

Several high-profile donors paused their donations to the Ivy League school, and early applications to Harvard dipped about 17%, the school said last month.

Additionally, Congress has launched an investigation into Harvard over anti-Semitism on campus that now also includes the plagiarism allegations.

Gay’s tenure, a little over 6 months according to the Crimson, was the shortest in the university’s history.

Day 88 — Tuesday, January 2

Analysis — Michele Bachmann: Hatred Of Jews For Being Jews — Antisemitism Is Demonic, Irrational, And Satanic


On Oct. 7, Kibbutz Be’eri was the site of some of the worst human slaughter. A staggering 10% of its people were killed within hours of the sunrise.

The attack wasn’t about land. Israel had given all of Gaza to the Arabs in 2005. Not one Jew lived in Gaza. The goal of Oct. 7 was simple: Kill as many Jews as possible.

The world witnessed antisemitism in its purest form.

It was a moment of unmistakable moral clarity when Gazans beheaded Jewish babies and burned alive pregnant women, old men and carefree teenagers targeted for death, rape and torture.

Genocide was the mission.

Article 7 of the Hamas Charter explicitly calls for killing all Jews. The Palestinian Authority calls for killing Jews. Iran calls for killing Jews!

We’ve witnessed Hamas supporters marching on global streets, committing acts of violence, defacing public and private property, and we’ve seen some calling for the genocide of Jews.

Antisemitic protesters smashed Grand Central Station as they marched in hatred of Jews. A college student at Cornell called on fellow students to kill Jews. At Columbia, Jewish students were locked in a cafeteria as haters banged on doors trying to physically beat Jews. Antisemitism is demonic, irrational, satanic.

Everyone wondered: Where was law enforcement and university security?

The hatred of Jews is as old as Satan’s hatred and jealousy of God.

God created a covenant nation—Israel, the people of the promise—and gave them a covenant land (Genesis 15:18), which produced our Jewish Messiah, who fulfilled the covenant by giving His life to pay the price for the sins of the whole world.

And in Him, all families on Earth are blessed (see Acts 3:25).

That’s why Satan is so angry. He knows his time is short. His plan was to stop God’s covenant by destroying the Jewish people.

Thankfully, we know how this ends.

Day 88 — Tuesday, January 2

IDF Says It’s At Heightened State Of Readiness Following Hamas Leader’s Assassination


Speaking hours after the alleged Israeli assassination of Hamas terror chief Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari opens his nightly briefing by saying that the military is at a “very high level of readiness — in all arenas, in defense and offense.

“We are in a high state of readiness for any scenario,” Hagari adds, without mentioning al-Arouri.

“The most important thing to say tonight is that we are focused and remain focused on fighting Hamas,” Hagari adds.

Regarding the homefront, he urges the public to continue to act responsibly and follow the Homefront Command’s lifesaving instructions.

Asked directly by a reporter whether he anticipates fire on central Israel or on the northern city of Haifa in the wake of al-Arouri’s killing, Hagari says: “I’m not referring to what’s been said here [by the reporter] and in other places. We are focused on fighting Hamas. We have been from the start, and we will continue to be.”

Israel has issued no official response to the killing in a Beirut suburb of the Hamas leader.

Senior Hamas military officials Samir Findi and Azzam Al-Aqraa have been identified among the five killed along with Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in an alleged Israeli airstrike on an apartment building in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Arabic media reports.

Hezbollah vow[ed] to respond to the alleged Israeli killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri outside of Beirut earlier this evening.

“We affirm that this crime will never pass without response and punishment,” the Lebanese terror group says in a statement, claiming its fighters are at heightened readiness in order to retaliate.

The terror group calls the alleged Israeli strike “a serious assault on Lebanon, its people, its security and its sovereignty… and a dangerous development in the course of the war between the enemy and the axis of resistance.”

“The criminal enemy — which after ninety days of crime, killing and destruction was unable to subjugate Gaza — is resorting to a policy of assassination… of… whoever planned, carried out or supported” Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught, Hezbollah says, highlighting the recent alleged Israeli killing of senior IRGC official Razi Mossavi in Syria last week.

Hezbollah claims such assassinations will only further embolden the Palestinian resistance movement.

Day 88 — Tuesday, January 2

IDF Comes Under Fire Overnight In West Bank; Kills Four Terrorists, Arrests Seven Wanted Persons


IDF reserve soldiers under the command of the Ephraim Brigade killed four armed terrorists Tuesday morning who barricaded themselves in a house during an operation in the town of Azzun in the northern West Bank, the IDF said in a statement.

During the operation, terrorists shot and threw explosives at the soldiers, who engaged them in a firefight and, after killing four, confiscated three ‘Carlo’-type submachine guns.

One IDF reserve officer was moderately wounded during the exchange of fire. He has been taken to a hospital for treatment, and his family has been informed.

Separately, during an IDF raid to locate and confiscate weapons in the city of Kalkilya, a terrorist fired at IDF forces and was killed, with no Israeli casualties. Soldiers confiscated the terrorist’s gun.

Meanwhile, the IDF, Shin Bet, and Border Police arrested seven wanted persons overnight throughout the West Bank. Confiscated weapons were transferred to security forces.

Israeli media reported an exchange of fire in Jenin as well as operations in Jericho.

Since the beginning of the war, more than 2,550 wanted persons have been arrested in the West Bank, of whom about 1,300 are associated with Hamas, the IDF said on Tuesday.

Day 88 — Tuesday, January 2

Escalating Tensions: Iranian Warship Enters Red Sea Amid Houthis’ Ongoing Attacks On Commercial Vessels

Iran’s Alborz warship has reportedly entered the Red Sea, emerging at a time of heightened tensions in the key shipping route amid ongoing attacks on vessels in response to the Israel-Hamas war.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported Monday that the vessel had entered the Red Sea through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, though it was unclear precisely when.

Tasnim did not give details of the Alborz’s mission but said Iranian warships had been operating in open waters to secure shipping routes, combat piracy, and carry out other tasks since 2009.

The Alvand class destroyer had been a part of the Iranian navy’s 34th fleet, and patrolled the Gulf of Aden, the north of the Indian Ocean and the Bab Al-Mandab Strait as far back as 2015, according to Iran’s Press TV.

The news comes as the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group – which was moved to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 invasion of Israel – is heading back to its home in Norfolk, Va

The Ford was deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean so it could be within striking distance of Israel following the Oct. 7 attacks.

The carrier remained in the Mediterranean while its accompanying ships sailed into the Red Sea where Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have been targeting vessels since November to show their support for the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in its war with Israel.

In response, many major shipping companies have rerouted their vessels around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, adding exorbitant costs and delays.

Houthi militants attacked a Maersk container vessel with missiles and small boats on Saturday and Sunday, prompting the company to pause all sailing through the Red Sea for 48 hours.

Day 87 — Monday, January 1

Defense Minister Says Israel Will Soon Return To Communities Near Gaza Border

Following a special situation assessment in the village of Dorot, Defense Minister Yoav Galant has announced plans for a gradual return of the surrounding settlements in the northern Gaza Strip, located within a distance of 4-7 kilometers (2-4 miles).

The assessment involved key figures such as Minister of Tourism Haim Katz, Director General of the Ministry of Defense Col. (ret.) Eyal Zamir, and regional government officials.

Minister Galant toured the kibbutz and emphasized the readiness for residents’ return, both from a security and civil perspective, while engaging with standby squad members.

Upon returning from the Gaza Strip, Minister Galant commended the dedication of the fighters facing the enemy to secure the communities surrounding Gaza. He stated, “They know their mission, they are carrying it out perfectly so that here, in the Gaza Envelope, life will return to its course.”

The decision to return settlements aligns with the recommendations of the IDF and the security establishment. The gradual process, managed by the director of Takuma responsible for the national mission, will prioritize education and address other essential aspects.

The initial phase aims to reintroduce residents to seven settlements, with subsequent phases covering all other settlements in the specified range. The announcement signals a significant step toward restoring normalcy to the affected communities in the Gaza Envelope.

Day 87 — Monday, January 1

Israeli MKs Send Letter To Biden Demanding US 'Share Material' On Alleged Settler Violence


Twenty-three Israeli MKs wrote to US President Joe Biden on Sunday, demanding an explanation of his administration’s recent statements accusing settlers of violent acts against Palestinian residents in the West Bank.

“First and foremost, We would like to express our gratitude, on behalf of the People of Israel, for your staunch support of the State of Israel and for your unflinching stance in these difficult times,” they wrote in the letter. They continued: “As members of Israel’s Knesset and the Knesset Caucus to Combat Antisemitism and Delegitimization, we, like you, denounce violence against innocent civilians. We are turning to you today regarding a number of statements you made recently pertaining to a ‘phenomenon’ you have called upon our government to address, namely violence perpetrated by Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria against Palestinian Arabs.

The letter was initiated by the chairman of the lobby, MK Ariel Kallner  (Likud) after an exclusive Israel Hayom report debunked the claims of an uptick in settler-perpetrated violence and that there has been a 50% drop in recent months compared to the equivalent period in 2022.

 

“The data at our disposal indicates that the scope of these incidents is limited to a very small number of isolated events, which pales in contrast with the vastly larger scope of violent incidents perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs against the residents of these same Jewish communities,” they wrote. “In fact, the quantity and quality of violent incidents emanating from the Jewish sector in Judea and Samaria is not only minuscule in comparison to Palestinian violence but is also similarly dwarfed when compared to the rate of violent crime in any other community or society.”

Kallner told Israel Hayom that “‘ settler violence’ is a modern blood libel that is nurtured and carried out by delegitimizing organizations like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, with foreign state funding amounting to millions.” He added that “we all condemn violence, but here we are talking about a combination of blatant lies, data manipulation and false accusations from nothing, all for the purpose of smearing the settler public in order to pave the way for a Palestinian state, as has already been exposed in documents from the New Israel Fund.”

He continued lamenting that there was a disproportionate focus on settlers that all but ignores the innate hatred toward Jews across Palestinian society: “This blood libel needs to be cut off at the root. The Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria have for years been subject to violent attacks by an Arab society that largely also supports the October 7 events,” he said. ” In addition, these pioneers are today also on the front lines of the Gaza war and even in the north, which is sadly also reflected in the high number of KIAs in the fighting who are from Judea and Samaria communities. At this time, we must stand by these residents and not allow delegitimizing entities that also make false accusations against IDF soldiers to defame them. We would welcome a response from the US president and hope that the data on which he relied will be scrutinized thoroughly.”

The letter Kallner and the other lawmakers wrote also asks that the administration make more responsible statements that are based on the actual figures while noting that Israel should be allowed to view the information on which the US made the accusations.  “Battling violence is an objective that we share – but our efforts must not stray from the facts and the truth. With this in mind, and to be more efficient partners in the battle against violence and vigilantism, we hope that you will kindly share your source material with us.

Day 86 — Sunday, December 31

U.S. Shoots Down Ballistic Missile Attack By Houthis On Danish Ship In Red Sea

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) stated late Saturday night two anti-ship ballistic missiles were intercepted in the Red Sea area, while American Burke-class destroyers responded to an earlier attack against a Danish merchant vessel.

“The container ship MAERSK HANGZHOU reported that they were struck by a missile while transiting the Southern Red Sea. The Singapore-flagged, Denmark-owned/operated container ship requested assistance,” CENTCOM posted on X.

There were reportedly no injuries on the MAERSK HANGZHOU and the vessel was still seaworthy. CENTCOM said the the USS GRAVELY (DDG 107) and USS LABOON (DDG 58) had responded to the event.

“While responding, the USS GRAVELY shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen toward the ships,” the statement added.

The U.S. military concluded that this was “the 23rd illegal attack by the Houthis on international shipping since Nov. 19,” but did not provide further details.

Operation Prosperity Guardian” was launched by the U.S. as a coalition security operation, to safeguard shipping lanes in the Red Sea against Houthi attacks. More than 20 nations signed up for the defensive force, and the Pentagon said it expected “to see the coalition continue to grow.”

Day 86 — Sunday, December 31

Monitor Claims 23 Fighters Killed In ‘Israeli’ Strikes In Eastern Syria


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims 23 pro-Iran fighters were killed Saturday in eastern Syria, saying “Israel” likely carried out the attack.

The monitor says five Syrians, four from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, six Iraqis and eight Iranians, were killed in at least nine pre-dawn air strikes near the Iraqi border.

It reports the strikes targeted military positions in Albu Kamal and its surroundings in Deir Ezzor province, adding that a weapons shipment from Iraq and an ammunition warehouse were also hit.

The Observatory, which says it relies on sources inside Syria, has been accused in the past of inflating or inventing casualty numbers. Funding for the monitor, run by a single person in Britain, is unclear.

A US military official, requesting anonymity, says the “US did not conduct any defensive strikes overnight.”

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran, which backs President Bashar Assad’s government, to expand its presence there.

The Observatory also claims that four foreign fighters were killed in strikes on Aleppo’s international airport. The attack was widely attributed to Israel.

Day 85 — Saturday, December 30

Freed Hostage Mia Schem: ‘I Experienced Hell. There Are No Innocent Civilians In Gaza’


Released hostage Mia Schem, 21, described going through “hell” while in the Gaza Strip in a pair of televised interviews that both aired on Friday evening.

Schem was shot in the arm and taken hostage from the Supernova music festival on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst into southern Israel, killing more than 1,200 people and dragging around 240 into Gaza. Some 360 partygoers were killed during the assault on the music festival, and another 36 were taken hostage.

She was released on November 30 after 54 days in captivity, reuniting with her family and loved ones, and undergoing extensive surgery and rehabilitation on her wounded arm.

Her family said she has since developed epilepsy, from the trauma and the lack of sleep during her eight weeks as a hostage in Gaza.

Schem spoke in depth for the first time about the experience to both Channel 12 and 13 news, recounting the moments she was taken hostage, the suffering and mental torture she endured in captivity, and the experience of coming back home.

“It’s important to me to reveal the real situation about the people who live in Gaza, who they really are, and what I went through there,” she told Channel 13 news. “I experienced hell. Everyone there are terrorists… there are no innocent civilians, not one,” she said. “[Innocent civilians] don’t exist.”

Schem recounted the first moments of her abduction on October 7. She said when the rockets started, she and her friend fled and got in her car. While she was driving, her friend screamed, “they’re shooting,” she recalled. “I hit the gas to try and pass them but they shot the tires and the car stopped.”

Then, she told Channel 12, a truck full of armed terrorists drove by, “and one of the Hamas members looked at me, and just shot me in the arm, at a very, very close range.”

After she was shot in the arm, she said, “I was on the floor, covered in blood, and I screamed, ‘I lost my hand, I lost my hand.’”

In front of her eyes, Hamas took her friend, Elia Toledano, captive to Gaza with his arms tied behind his back; his body was recovered by the IDF earlier this month and brought back to Israel.

Schem said she saw Hamas terrorists shooting any of the wounded who still appeared alive, so she tried to play dead, but her friend’s car was burning around her. She saw a man walking amid the cars, and thinking he was Israeli, shouted: “Help!” But he was a Hamas terrorist, who told her to get up.

He “started to touch me, in the upper part of my body,” gesturing toward her chest. “And I started to scream, to go crazy, amid the burning cars, the bodies.” Then the terrorist, she said, saw the situation with her arm and “recoiled, and stopped for a moment.”

“And then out of nowhere somebody grabbed me by my hair, pulled me into a car and drove me to Gaza,” she told Channel 12. She said she felt like “an animal at the zoo” and was held for some time by a family with young children who would open the door to the room where she was held just to stare at her.

During the journey to Gaza, she told Channel 13, she was “half-conscious. I didn’t understand what was going on. I just told myself that I didn’t want to die.”

She said when they arrived in Gaza, “they pulled me by my hair from the car, they threw me in some back room of some hospital.” There, she said, they “stretched out my arm, tied it up on a piece of plastic, and that’s how I was for three days.” She said she was “sure that they were going to amputate my arm.”

After three days, she said, she was told to get dressed in a hijab and she was taken to a surgery room, where she was operated on “without anesthesia, nothing,” she told Channel 12 news, although she said to Channel 13 that they “put me under,” without elaborating on how.

Schem said she didn’t see the face of the person who operated on her, but “he looked at me and he said, ‘You’re not going home alive.’”

A day after the surgery, she told Channel 13, she was forced to film a propaganda video which Hamas released a few days later: “They told me to say that they were taking care of me and treating me… You do what you’re told. You’re afraid to die.”

It was the first video of a live hostage in Gaza.

Then she was brought to be held in a family home, Schem told Channel 13, saying that the whole family was involved with Hamas, including the woman and children. “I began asking myself questions: Why am I in a family home? Why are there children here? Why is there a woman here?” she said.

She was kept in a room and was told she couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, couldn’t cry, couldn’t be seen, she recounted: “There’s a terrorist, who is watching you 24/7, who is raping you with his eyes… an evil stare. I was afraid of being raped. It was my biggest fear there.”

She said she did not shower the entire period in captivity, didn’t receive any medications or painkillers, and would receive food “sometimes.”

She told Channel 12 that as a hostage she feared “that at any moment something could happen suddenly, that they would touch me.”

She described a moment when one of the youngest children of the family entered her room, “opened a bag of sweets, closed it, came up next to me, opened the bag, closed it and then left.”

Schem said that during her time in captivity she changed her own bandages, cleaned her wounds and did physiotherapy on herself.

Schem said she felt only “pure hatred. There are no innocent citizens there. They’re families controlled by Hamas. They’re children who from the moment they are born, they teach them that Israel is Palestine and just to hate Jews.”

Schem said she believes the only reason her captor did not rape her is that “his wife and children were in the next room. His wife hated the fact that he was alone in the room with me. Hated it. So she would play games with me.”

His wife would bring her husband food, “and not bring me food,” she recounted. “A day, two days, three days, I wouldn’t eat… She was so terrible, she had mean eyes. She was a very evil woman.”

On one occasion, she said, “I was choking back tears,” and her captor looked at her and said “‘Enough, or I’ll send you to the tunnel.’”

Schem told Channel 13 that there was a television in the house, and at one point she saw her mother appear on TV, “and I saw my mother being strong, and I said ‘who am I to break?’”

Schem said the IDF airstrikes in Gaza were very close by where she was being held, shattering the windows. She said she experienced blast shock and “I couldn’t hear for three days.”

She continued to hope, however, that the army would rescue her, even waving her hands — with their distinctive tattoos — out of the bathroom window when she had a chance. But she said she was not afraid of the blasts, and “they made me feel good… that they didn’t forget me.”

At one point, she recounted to Channel 12, her captor was angry, upset, crying and told her that his two friends had been killed in Israeli airstrikes: “I was very satisfied” by the news, she said, “but I acted sad, I comforted him, I played the game.”

Schem said she was later moved from home to home — via ambulance — and once even cooked a meal for the four Hamas terrorists who were holding her hostage, “and I made them see me in a different light. To respect me. They appreciate women who cook, who clean.”

She said that four or five days before she was released — at the start of the weeklong truce — she was sent to the Hamas tunnels: “No air, no food, with an open wound.”

There, for the first time since she was abducted, she met a handful of other Israeli hostages. On the one hand, she told Channel 13, she was happy to see them, but she also felt that some of them “had already lost hope… it was hard to be optimistic.”

Repeatedly, she said, her captors would taunt her and lie that she was going to be released tomorrow, “to break you emotionally.” The next day, she said, instead of releasing her “they would say to me ‘you’re like Gilad Schalit, a year, two years, three years,” a reference to the IDF soldier captured in 2006 and released five years later, in 2011.

She told Channel 13 that she didn’t really believe she would be freed “until I got in the IDF vehicle, until I crossed the border into Israel.”

Right before she was handed over to the Red Cross, they “stuck a camera in my face and said ‘Say that we treated you nicely, that people in Gaza are nice and good.’ What else was I supposed to do?”

Schem told Channel 12 news that when she was released, leaving other hostages behind was “the hardest thing in the world.”

“They said to me, ‘Mia, please, make sure they don’t forget us.’ And I apologized that I was leaving,” she said. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Schem, who is a French-Israeli dual national, was one of the 105 hostages freed during a Qatar-negotiated temporary ceasefire last month. An additional 129 people are believed to remain in Hamas captivity, including 23 bodies. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops.

Day 85 — Saturday, December 30

South Africa Asks World Court For Genocide Order Against Israel


South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice, known as the World Court, for an order accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention in relation to attacks on Palestians in Gaza.

The International Court of Justice is a United Nations’ court for resolving conflicts between nations.

“South Africa is gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants,” a statement from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) reads.

“Israel, since 7 October 2023 in particular, has failed to prevent genocide and has failed to prosecute the direct and public incitement to genocide,” DIRCO said in a statement.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it ” rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa in its application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

“South Africa’s claim lacks both a factual and a legal basis, and constitutes a despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the Court,” the ministry said in a statement. “South Africa is cooperating with a terrorist organization that is calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.”

The Palestinian  Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed South Africa’s actions.

“The Court must immediately take action to protect the Palestinian people and call on Israel, the occupying Power, to halt its onslaught against the Palestinian people, in order to ensure an objective legal resolution,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The existence of the Palestinian people is under unprecedented threat as we are facing a moral and legal catastrophe of enormous proportions undermining our shared humanity and the essence of the multilateral order,” the statement continued.

ISRAEL WAR — TIMELINE

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