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Israel At War: Week Nineteen Coverage

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ISRAEL WAR — TIMELINE

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Day 133 — Friday, February 16

Netanyahu Rejects Biden's Push For A Unilateral Palestinian Statehood

Israel At War,Israel War,Hamas,Gaza,Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected all plans for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood after he spoke with US President Joe Biden for 40 minutes and after the security cabinet met.

“At the cabinet meeting, I clarified my position regarding the recent talk of imposing a Palestinian state on Israel,” Netanyahu wrote in a post on X.

“These two sentences sum up my position,” he explained.

״Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a permanent arrangements with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions,” Netanyahu wrote.

“Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement,” Netanyahu stressed.

He spoke in the early hours of Friday after The Washington Post published an article the previous day about US plans with Arab allies to advance a two-state resolution to the conflict as part of a larger regional arrangement that would involve a Gaza ceasefire and Saudi normalization with Israel.

A number of European countries have also weighed unilateral Palestinian statehood recognition in light of the Israel-Hamas war.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich who is opposed to a Palestinian state had called on the security cabinet, which met Thursday night, to publicly reject any such plan. 

Day 133 — Friday, February 16

IDF Says Warplanes Bombed Hezbollah Military Positions, Several Killed

The Israel Defense Forces say that overnight warplanes bombed a Hezbollah military building in the town of Qantara in southern Lebanon, killing “several terrorists.”

The IDF says it also hit other military infrastructure near the town.

The military and the Lebanese terror group have been trading fire across the border for the last four months since Hezbollah began firing rockets into Israel in support of Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 massacre in southern Lebanon.

Day 132 — Thursday, February 15

Transcript: Former Secretary Pompeo Holds Press Conference At Site Of Nova Music Festival Massacre

The following is a transcript of former U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s press conference on Tuesday, lightly edited for clarity.

FORMER SECRETARY MIKE POMPEO: Good afternoon, everyone. This is sacred ground. To see the pictures of these young people reminds my wife and me, Susan, so much of our family and the families who lost loved ones here. And we pray for the souls of those lost and the families who remember them. It is also, as you walk this field, never far from my mind that not far from where we are standing there are hostages still being held. Some of them are U.S. citizens. Some of them are citizens of other places. All are people who are being held in awful conditions by barbarians. And the obligation of the world to ensure that they are returned here just as quickly as possible to their families is very much on my heart and that of my wife, Susan. 

We should all also be mindful that this is a recognition of something that I knew from my time as CIA director of the United States, and the Secretary of State, is that evil remains. And those of us who stand guard, those of us with the responsibility to provide security against this evil, have a continuous duty. That obligation didn’t end on October 7th. It continues to this day. And I pray that the world will continue to support Israel, the brave soldiers who are fighting just behind us, and permit them to do what is necessary to ensure that events like this can never happen again. It is our duty, it is our responsibility, and we take it most seriously. We pray for all the people of Israel.

And with that, I’m happy to take a handful of questions. Susan, anything that you’d like to add?

REPORTER: What is your feeling when you stand here, as you go between the pictures. What are you feeling? 

POMPEO: That’s always when everyone travels to a place where a great tragedy has taken place. I think of the American place as Gettysburg. I think of places where there were wars were fought, in places where, like New York City, where Ground Zero took place, where people’s lives were lost, who were just trying to live their lives. You know, I’ve seen, I’ve read, so much about this. To come here and be here, just remind you of this responsibility.

REPORTER: Secretary Pompeo, I know you’ve been outspoken about Iran in the past. I wanted to ask you, after what you’ve seen today, what do you think Iran’s involvement in this situation is? And has Biden’s foreign policy on Iran contributed to the rise of terrorism in this region?

POMPEO: This is not the place to have that conversation. But we should always be deeply mindful that there is power behind the forces who came across these fence lines in Gaza. And I think, too, today of the struggle still in the north with Hezbollah. We should be mindful that what happened on October 7th is a symptom of the challenge that the Islamic Republic of Iran brings.

And so I think the world needs to remember that whether it’s what’s taking place in the Red Sea today, or what’s happening – the fights that are going to occur around Rafah – that in the background is the Iranian leadership. It is Iranian training. It is Iranian money. And so, the responsibility to get this right will inevitably require lots of sustained effort against that true threat.

REPORTER: You know, people in my generation, my parents’ generation, have known that there has been support from the Democrats in America, from many officials in the United States. But I see that that’s going away. Even my sisters that are 21 years old, not even a generation less than me, there is almost no support for Israel, and they’re scared on college campuses. What do you think needs to happen in the United States to bring more support back onto Israel and stop this downward spiral?

POMPEO: Well, I’d like to remind you all that some of the things you see on CNN every day, or on some of the news, doesn’t represent the reality of America, and the America that I know, and the people that I see. And that, by the way, it’s not political. It’s not Democrat or Republican. The American people stand firmly with the nation of Israel, the vast majority of them. And maybe I’ll just stop there in this place. I don’t think anyone should ever have any illusion about the evil that took place here. And I hope that the next generation will come to take that on board in the same way that my generation and the generation before me did, as well. But you should have great confidence that the American people stand with Israel. I know that I do. I believe it with all my soul and all my heart. 

JOEL C. ROSENBERG, TBN NEWS: Mr. Secretary, would you comment on the two hostages being released? And this was an intelligence failure on the 7th. But it’s pretty dramatic, intelligence and military success yesterday.

POMPEO: It’s always great news – some of my highlights as Secretary of State was when we were able to get hostages released. For the nation of Israel, it has to be incredibly joyous, [though we’re] mindful that there still remain dozens and dozens of hostages that are being held. So, great work by the broader intelligence community in the IDF, brave soldiers and warriors, much work left to do.

REPORTER: What are your views on the planned operation in Rafah? And also President Biden’s view that Israel’s response to Hamas has been “over the top.”

POMPEO: Israel’s response to what took place on October 7th is perfectly appropriate and more importantly, necessary.

REPORTER: What has to happen after the war, when the fighting stops? What kind of a situation needs to be in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

POMPEO: So, for today, I’ll leave it with this – with a principle, not an outcome. The principle has to be this: It cannot be that a people would live their lives with the risk that something like what happened on October 7th could happen again. We wouldn’t permit that in the United States. We wouldn’t permit our people to have to evacuate the North, or not be able to live in their homes inside of the United States in our country. The Israeli government should not permit that threat to remain upon them either. And so whatever – however – the political solution is for governance in Gaza needs to have as the central thesis Israeli security.

REPORTER: Israel’s tunnel warfare has uncovered a lot of connection between Hamas and UNWRA. What do you say to those who say that UNRWA’s doing a great job in Gaza and should not be defunded?

POMPEO: So, I experienced this when I was CIA director. I mean, this is not news to me. I suppose the extent and scope is always just mind-boggling. UNWRA is an organization that failed to do its central mission. Too many of them were too deeply connected to Hamas. And as we did when I was a Secretary of State, our decision was that no longer could be the mechanism through which humanitarian assistance was provided to the people of Gaza. I regret that we had returned to that model. It is a failed model, and we ought not to go back in that direction. UNWRA has proven itself fundamentally incapable of doing what its task, what its mission set, was.

REPORTER: Would you talk about the surge in antisemitism around the world, the global surge – not just in the US, but in Europe

POMPEO: I’m afraid antisemitism has been with us a long time. And so, when I when I hear the “surge,” I think it may have revealed what already, sadly, may have been there. What happened on American campuses, in the leadership at some of our most prestigious universities in America, is both immoral and embarrassing. And I hope that the world collectively will do better. The fight against anti-Semitism is something that’s been going on for a long, awfully long, time. We in the United States suffer it ourselves, as well. And we need to stamp it out everywhere we find it. It is part of our obligation as well. 

SUSAN POMPEO: I just want to say, for those of us of which there are millions who are so crushed – who were so crushed – on October 7th and continue to be and continue to stand with you, we feel helpless. And it’s hard for us to know how to convey – especially to those personally affected, but to Jews everywhere – how much we care. And so, I will share with you a prayer that I’ve been saying, and I asked my Bible study friends to say also, for Israel. And the prayer goes along the lines that it is a battle between evil and good. And one of you, I think, said that, and I believe that wholeheartedly. And we must overcome as warriors, all of us in our corners of the world, we have to overcome this evil and not be afraid, be as courageous as we can be. Pray hard, and we must stamp it out. So, just know we’re praying for you.

Day 132 — Thursday, February 15

House Votes Unanimously To Condemn Hamas For Rape: 'The Brutality Was Planned And Calculated'

Israel At War,Israel War,Hamas,Gaza,Israel

The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously, 418-0, to condemn Hamas terrorists for rape and sexual violence on Oct. 7.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a progressive member of the “Squad” who has a long history of antisemitic comments, voted “present,” as the House passed H.Res.966 on Wednesday.

“On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, mercilessly killing 1,200 people; raping, mutilating, burning and assaulting their victims to inflict physical and psychological pain, unleashing trauma that continues to plague a grieving Israel,” stated Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), who introduced the resolution.

“The brutality was planned and calculated,” Frankel added. “Sadly, Hamas’s savagery has been met with a shrug—and even denial—from many corners of the world. Our resolution loudly and clearly condemns all rape and forms of sexual violence as weapons of war, including those acts committed by Hamas terrorists on and since Oct. 7.”

Frankel introduced the resolution, which received 200 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, with Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) and Jen Kiggans (R-Va.).

The resolution condemns all rape and sexual violence “as weapons of war,” including those Hamas committed on and after Oct. 7; calls on all countries to criminalize rape and sexual assault and hold both state and non-state armed groups accountable for such attacks; and tells international groups to “unequivocally condemn the barbaric murder, rape, sexual assault and kidnapping by Hamas and other terrorists on and since Oct. 7 and hold accountable all perpetrators.”

“The international community’s utter failure to adequately condemn and address Hamas’s use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war on and since Oct. 7 is not merely disappointing—it is a dereliction of duty for all who claim to stand for human rights and humanity,” stated Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee.

“The world cannot turn a blind eye to this brutality and such atrocities,” Deutch added. “The whole of Congress needs to make clear that the United States is united in demanding accountability for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.”

Day 131 — Wednesday, February 14

IDF Chief Says Current Military Focus Is ‘Being Ready For War In The North’

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During an assessment in northern Israel, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says the IDF is preparing for war in the north, amid Hezbollah’s daily attacks from Lebanon.

“We are not finishing this without returning the residents to Metula and all the communities in the north, with a very high level of security,” Halevi says, referring to some 80,000 Israelis displaced by Hezbollah’s attacks.

“We are now focused on being ready for war in the north. If it does not end in war, it will not end with any compromise to the achievements,” he says.

“Hezbollah is not here on the fence, we will push back all its capabilities, it will be much quieter here, there will be much more stability here and then residents can return,” Halevi continues. “Will this happen tomorrow? Probably not. It will take some time.”

Day 131 — Wednesday, February 14

Hamas Charged With War Crimes By Released Israeli Hostages And Hostage Families At The Hague

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One hundred representatives of relatives of Israeli hostages, as well as former hostages, filed a war crime complaint against the Hamas terror group at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Wednesday.

The file includes “1,000 pages of evidence about genocide, kidnapping, crimes of sexual violence, torture and other charges,” according to the Hostage Families’ headquarters.

“We came to demand justice. On the 7th of October, we went through a second Holocaust. These human monsters are the heirs of Hitler, Eichmann and Goebbels,” the organization stated.

“They must be wiped out, and the notion of collective death which they spread must be eliminated. History will not repeat itself, we are taking our fate into our hands and demanding the justice that we are owed.”

The complaint has been prepared over four months and demands arrest warrants be issued against the Hamas leadership for the atrocities committed in southern Israel border communities on Oct. 7.

The Israeli lawsuit comes in response to the claim of genocide filed by South Africa against Israel. The International Court of Justice ordered the State of Israel to take several measures to ensure the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza but did not specifically order it to stop the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of people rallied outside the courthouse in The Hague on Wednesday to show their support for the hostage families. Despite rainy weather, the protesters demanded the return of all Israeli hostages, holding signs written in Hebrew, English and Dutch.

Dr. Sheli Aviv Yeni, head of the legal team, said outside the court: “Hamas’ crimes, which include genocide, kidnappings, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence, cannot and should remain unpunished.”

“Hamas-ISIS terrorists documented the atrocities they committed and did not distinguish between children, women and men – Jews, Bedouins, and Thais,” said Nadav Rudaif, son of Lior Rudaif who is still being held hostage.

“They kidnapped, murdered, raped, dismembered, and destroyed everything in their path, and if that wasn’t horrible enough they celebrated the massacre in the streets of Gaza and handed out candy on the blood of innocent civilians. I appeal to you again, citizens of the free and Western world – wake up!”

Day 131 — Wednesday, February 14

Northern Israel 'Under A Flood Of Missiles' As Hezbollah Ramps Up Attacks

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Several Israelis were hospitalized from rocket fire in northern Israel on Wednesday morning as Hezbollah ramped up its attacks on Israeli cities.

Sirens were heard in Safed, Meron, and across the Upper Western Galilee.

There were initial reports of a direct hit in Safed, and Magen David Adom (MDA) stated they were providing medical aid to seven people – four in moderate condition and three in light condition. The wounded were transferred to Ziv Medical Center in Safed. 

Mateh Asher Regional Council head Moshe Davidovitz stated, “The north this morning is under a flood of missiles.”

Two people were wounded in Kiryat Shmona on Tuesday after a direct rocket hit landed.

The head of Lebanon’s powerful armed group Hezbollah said on Tuesday that his faction’s cross-border shelling into Israel would only end when Israel’s “aggression” on the Gaza Strip stops.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah threatened to displace more residents from northern Israel, where tens of thousands have already been evacuated from months of Hezbollah rocket fire, and said that if Israel’s military widened the war his group would do the same.

Day 130 — Tuesday, February 13

Victims Of October 7 Urge Israeli Defense Ministry To Designate The UNRWA A Terror Organization

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An initiative to declare UNRWA a terrorist organization is being spearheaded by the Shurat HaDin Law Center, representing dozens of October 7 massacre victims.

Shurat HaDin’s initiative is targeted toward the Defense Ministry. The organization argues that there is a solid legal basis for such a designation. Their opinion, comprised of arguments that extend over eight pages, was submitted to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Should Gallant accept the proposal, he can exercise his authority to declare UNRWA a terrorist organization but would be subjected to Shin Bet security recommendation services.

The President of the Law Center, attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, commented, “Now it is clear to everyone that UNRWA has opened its doors to Hamas terrorists in an unprecedented way. In the guise of a humanitarian organization that perpetuates a false and dangerous historic narrative, they have themselves become a central headquarters of a terrorist organization, some of whose employees murdered innocent Jews with their own hands.”

The current initiative comes in light of the IDF’s recent revelation of the Hamas command center in the Hamas tunnels below UNRWA’s headquarters, which operates on behalf of the UN in the Gaza Strip. 

Darshan-Leitner continued, “UNRWA is no longer a humanitarian agency – its become a full-scale jihadi group. This provides all the grounds and legal evidence for the Defense Minister to declare them a terrorist organization. This designation is the necessity of the hour in order to prevent the next victims of terrorist violence and expedite the collapse of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.”

Shurat HaDin’s primary objective, according to its website, is to fight terrorism and safeguard Jewish rights worldwide. Based in Tel Aviv, the law center combats boycott, divestment, and sanction initiatives and challenges those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish State. 

Jerusalem Post

Day 129 — Monday, February 12

Netanyahu Hails ‘One Of The Most Successful’ Rescue Ops In Israeli History

Israel At War,Israel War,Hamas,Gaza,Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday thanked special forces operators who freed two hostages from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip in “one of the most successful rescue operations in the history of the State of Israel.”

Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Norberto Louis Har, 70, both kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7 while visiting Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, were rescued in an overnight operation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah.

The Israel Defense Forces, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police worked together to free the Israeli-Argentine nationals. The Shin Bet’s operational unit managed the operation, which was carried out by it and the Israel Police’s Yamam National Counter-Terrorism Unit.

“You worked like a well-oiled machine. You are simply the best fighters there are. I came here to tell you this and to salute you on behalf of all citizens of Israel. You are the best in the world,” Netanyahu told the fighters during a visit together with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

“At 1.40 a.m. this morning, I saw you placing the [explosive] charge, and seconds later, I heard, ‘We have the hostages.’ You eliminated the kidnappers, the terrorists, and made your way back without injury—a successful operation, a perfect operation,” the premier said.

“I would like to tell you that the freeing of Louis and Fernando was one of the most successful rescue operations in the history of the State of Israel,” added Netanyahu.

Ben-Gvir tweeted a picture of himself alongside the forces, Netanyahu and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai. “With the heroic Yamam fighters who carried out the heroic rescue operation of our hostages last night. You brought a lot of pride to our country,” wrote Ben-Gvir.

There are still 134 hostages remaining in Hamas custody, 32 of whom are confirmed dead and 20 of whom are feared dead. Hamas terrorists murdered some 1,200, mostly civilians and wounded thousands more during the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

Day 129 — Monday, February 12

'Terrorists Dressed As Journalists': IDF Finds Evidence Showing Al Jazeera Reporter Was Also A Hamas Commander

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The IDF’s Arabic spokesman, Avichay Adraee, revealed that the IDF had found the laptop of a Gazan journalist in a Hamas base.

According to Adraee, the laptop belonged to Muhammad Washah, a journalist for Al Jazeera. It was found several weeks ago in a Hamas base in northern Gaza.

The IDF claims that the journalist also served as a senior commander in Hamas’s antitank missile system, and moved to the research and development department of its air force at the end of 2022.

Investigation of the laptop revealed photos that connect Muhamed to Hamas’ activities.

Adraee commented: “Who knows how many other details we’ll soon discover about the presence of other terrorists dressed as journalists.”

Day 129 — Monday, February 12

Biden Claims Israel’s Response to Hamas Is ‘Over the Top’

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In a press conference late last week, a reporter asked President Joe Biden how he thought Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has handled the Israeli-Hamas conflict. In response, the president said, “I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response … in the Gaza Strip has been over the top.”

His remark on Thursday received immediate backlash. And yet, on Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sent more mixed messages, stating that Biden has “been clear that the U.S. wants to see the Hamas terror organization defeated.” She added, “That is a shared goal that we have with Israel.” As a result, many continue to be skeptical — and confused — about where the Biden administration stands.

“I don’t think anybody could ever go ‘over the top’ in their response to Hamas after what they did in the first place on October 7th,” said Lela Gilbert, senior fellow for International Religious Freedom at Family Research Council, on “Washington Watch.” Despite Biden’s comment during the press conference, Gilbert urged people to think back to how he responded to the initial attacks several months back. “[I believe it] was quite genuine, and it appeared to be from the heart,” she said.

The atrocities committed against more than 1,200 Israelis were gruesome and have resulted in sons and daughters being deployed to unknown battle grounds and families having to uproot from their homes. Gilbert lived in Israel for over 10 years and saw smaller “wars and uproars,” but she stated that “there’s been nothing like this [attack] … since Israel became a country.” She added, “[A]ll that to say, I think Biden responded well at the beginning.” But since the beginning, Gilbert emphasized, it appears Biden has “changed his tune” as more input is given.

“If there is any part of this … that is over the top, it is Hamas,” former congressman and guest host Jody Hice argued, along with the suggestion that Israel “does not have the right to defend themselves.” But Biden’s comment shouldn’t be surprising, he added, since he has “dropped the ball in many regards [to] foreign policy.” In addition to the war in Israel, Gilbert recently highlighted how there are thousands of Nigerian Christians being slaughtered every day that Biden seemingly ignores, noting that despite the push for him to designate Nigeria as a country of particular concern (CPC), he’s done nothing.

Gilbert emphasized that “radical Islam” is the “common denominator” in both the war in Israel and the persecution in Nigeria. “And nobody really talks about that because, we don’t want to insult [anyone],” she said. “But the fact is … it’s all coming from the same source. It’s coming from radical Islamists with different names on their militias and so forth.”

Day 129 — Monday, February 12

IDF Special Forces Rescue Two Hostages In 'Daring' Overnight Operation In Rafah

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Israeli special forces overnight rescued two hostages, brothers-in-law Fernando Merman (60) and Luis Har (70), during a complex targeted operation in Rafah, southern Gaza.

The men were kidnapped from Nir Itzhak on October 7, a kibbutz on the Gaza border, along with 3 other family members. Both are said to be in a good health condition.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, the former hostages were transferred to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv for medical examination and necessary treatment, including psychological support.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari gave a morning press briefing and revealed details of the operation, saying it had been prepared for a long time.

“Following an airstrike, at 1:49 a.m. (local time) the special forces broke into a building in Rafah and found Merman and Har on the second floor being guarded by armed terrorists,” Hagari said.

A firefight ensued, and Hagari said the soldiers used their bodies to shield the hostages from the gunfire.

Troops took Fernando and Luis to a safe zone where they underwent an initial medical inspection and were then transferred to Israel by helicopter. Hagari added  that the former hostages have already been “excitedly” reunited with their families.

“To the hostages in Gaza, if you can hear me, we will not waste a single opportunity to bring you home,” stated Hagari.

The IDF spokesperson also said that since October 7 security forces, including the IDF and Shin Bet, have worked “endlessly” to prepare operations of this type, and “today the conditions allowed them to bring those plans to life.” He vowed that Israel would continue to try to bring back the hostages in any way possible, including a deal.

Day 128 — Sunday, February 11

IDF Finds Hamas Command Tunnel Under UNRWA Gaza Head Quarters

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New evidence of the cooperation between UNRWA and the Islamist terror organization Hamas came to light after the IDF discovered a tunnel shaft near a UNRWA school during its operations in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military announced on Saturday.

The tunnel shaft, near the school, led to an underground shelter that served as a valuable asset for Hamas’s military intelligence wing, according to the IDF. The route connected to the tunnel also led to a path beneath UNRWA’s central headquarters in the Gaza Strip.

According to the report, the tunnel was 700 meters long and 18 meters deep and contained several constructed side doors to various new routes. The IDF stated that the newly acquired intelligence from this operation will allow it to conduct additional raids on Hamas in the future.

Additionally, IDF soldiers discovered electric infrastructure inside the tunnels that were connected to the UNRWA headquarters building, indicating that UNRWA assets were supplying Hamas with electricity.

Following these findings, paired with prior intelligence from the Shin Bet, the IDF raided the offices of the UNRWA headquarters building.

Within the offices of the building itself, the IDF announced that it discovered guns, ammunition, grenades, and other explosives.

Shortly after the IDF’s announcement on Saturday, Commissioner-General of UNRWA Phillipe Lazzarini made a comment on X (formerly Twitter), denying any awareness of Hamas using UNRWA assets for terror purposes.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz responded to the Commissioner-General’s statement, demanding that he resign.

“The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action.  Commissioner-General Lazzarini’s claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative.”

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) rejected Lazzarini’s claims as well, posting on X “Oh, you knew. Digging a tunnel takes longer than 4 months. We invited senior @UN officials to see, and during past meetings with you and other UN officials, we stated Hamas’s use of UNRWA’s headquarters. You chose to ignore the facts so you can later try and deny them.”

Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, responded to Lazzarini on Saturday night, writing “it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand.”

Erdan called on Lazzarini to “Take responsibility and resign today!”

“Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted,” added Erdan.

Day 128 — Sunday, February 11

Biden, Democrats Give Israel 45 Days to Submit Human Rights Report

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The Biden administration, after urging by left-wing Democrats, issued a memorandum Thursday that will require Israel to submit a report within 45 days on its compliance with international humanitarian law in its war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

The memorandum, announced by the White House, theoretically applies to any country that receives weapons from the United States and is actively involved in armed conflict. But the White House all but admitted Friday that it was targeted at Israel.

The following exchange took place during Friday’s White House press briefing with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (via White House transcript):

Q Thank you, Karine. Last night, soon after the President’s remarks about Israel, the administration announced a national security memo that calls for the State Department to obtain written assurances that countries that receive weapons from the U.S. will use those weapons in accordance with the law of war.

Jake Sullivan, Kirby, others have previously said that the U.S. already requires those assurances, so why did the administration feel the need to formalize that and ask for it in writing now?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look — so, this memor- — memorandum that you’re speaking of — and it merged, in part, with our discussions with members of Congress. And so, this, obviously, memo came out yesterday. And so, it’s called a national security memorandum. It outlines the standards and coun- — that countries must adhere, as you just laid it — as you just laid out.

But I also want to be clear: There are new — there are no new standards in this memo. We are not imposing new standards for military aid. That’s not what is in this memo. Instead, we are spelling out publicly the existing standards by the international law, including the law of armed conflict.

So, we are also — one thing that we are doing is creating a new annual report to Congress that members have requested. This is in request, because of interest of transparency. So, this is in line with conversations that we have with — with the congressional members, as we try to really, you know, work together in a way that — that makes sense and moves the ball forward.

But this is not new standards. This is — this is something — these are — these are — these are things that already exist — to your point — that is now in writing. And then, there — and we did create a new annual report for more transparency.

Q So, if Israel doesn’t sign off within the deadline of 45 days, because it is involved with active conflict, will the U.S. aid be cut off immediately?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, what I can tell you is that we did brief the Israelis on this. They reiterated their willingness to provide these types of assurances. So, those conversations are happening, and they — obviously, they reiterated their willingness to — for these assurances.

Left-wing Democrats, and socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have been pushing for reports on Israel’s compliance with human rights standards as a way of trying to embarrass Israel and to stop U.S. support for Israel’s war effort against Hamas in Gaza.

When put to a vote, Sanders’s suggestion only received eleven votes in the Senate. By issuing a memorandum, President Joe Biden is essentially suggesting that congressional will be set aside and that Israel be forced to comply the demands of its critics.

The new requirement comes amid increased pressure from the Biden administration on Israel to end the war, as well as increased public criticism. It also comes as Israel faces false charges of “genocide” at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Day 127 — Saturday, February 10

'I Will Not Legitimize Guterres': Knesset Speaker Cancels Meeting With UN Chief Over Anti-Israel Statements

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Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, who is currently on a visit to Washington, DC, cancelled a scheduled meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which was scheduled for Friday, due to Guterres’ statements against Israel, Channel 12 News reported.

According to the report, Ohana made clear that he would not give Guterres legitimacy by holding the meeting. The UN Secretary-General heard about the cancellation of the meeting from the Channel 12 News report. His spokesman said in response: “Our door remains open to any delegation that would like to meet him.”

“The cancellation of the meeting did not come in a vacuum,” Ohana told Channel 12 News, in a swipe at Guterres following his past controversial comments that Hamas’ attack on Israel “did not happen in a vacuum”.

“I intended to try and convince, as well as hand him a book we prepared in the Knesset which documents October 7 with still images. But yesterday he again called on the State of Israel to stop fighting and criticize it ‘even if Hamas uses human shields’. There are lost causes and red lines. I will not legitimize Guterres,” he added.

Guterres on Thursday was pressed by Channel 12 News correspondent Yuna Leibzon about his ongoing claims that Israel is carrying out “collective punishment” in Gaza.

Asked by Leibzon what he would have done if a terrorist organization had launched a murderous attack against his people, the UN chief replied, “I think there is something wrong in the way the military operations are being conducted.”

When Leibzon pointed out that Hamas hides within civilian populations, Guterres retorted, “I have condemned the use of human shields. I even said that it is a violation of international humanitarian law, but the same international humanitarian law is clear that even when there are human shields, there is an obligation to protect civilians, so in that regard, I think we are abiding by principles without double standards.”

ISRAEL WAR — TIMELINE

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