Israel News

News Digest — 3/27/24

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Report In Lebanon: At Least 7 Dead In Strike Attributed To Israel: IDF Says Averted Terror Strike In Targeted Killing

Media outlets in Lebanon reported early Wednesday morning (27th) that at least 7 people were killed in an airstrike in the southern part of the country, which was blamed on Israel.

Two security officials told Reuters that the strike took place in the village of Hebbariyeh

The Lebanese Al Mayadeen network, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, reported that the attack targeted the building of the Islamic Emergency and Relief Center which is located in the village.

The IDF said in a statement that the strike on southern lebanon overnight prevented a terror attack.  It said the military carried out a targeted killing of a senior member of a Palestinian Sunni militia and six other members of the group in the village of Hebbariyeh in southern Lebanon.

“In the compound, a significant terrorist operative belonging to the ‘al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya’ organization (affiliated with Islamic Jihad) who advanced attacks against Israeli territory was eliminated along with additional terrorists who were with him,” the IDF’s statement read.

Hezbollah issued a statement on the strike and said that the Israeli operation will not go unanswered. 

A building suffered a direct hit from a Hezbollah rocket attack on the Upper Galilee region of Kiryat Shmona on Wednesday morning (27th). A 25-year-old man was killed and a second person was slightly injured in the Hezbollah 30 rocket missile barrage.  The fallen is the 18th Israeli soldier to be killed on the Lebanon-Israel border since the start of the war.

Early on Tuesday (26th), approximately 50 rockets were fired from Lebanon toward northern Israel.  The IDF Aerial Defense Array intercepted several launches and many fell in open areas.

On Tuesday (26th), the IAF carried out two major strikes deep inside Lebanon territory in the area of the Beqaa Valley after Hezbollah carried out a large rocket attack that hit an Air Force base in the Galilee.  

On Tuesday evening (26th), IDF fighter jets struck a landing area and several military structures inside a military compound used by Hezbollah’s aerial unit in the area of Tell Wardeen deep inside Lebanese territory.  They also struck a weapons storage facility in the area of Hanine and a military compound in the area of Beit Yahoun in southern Lebanon.



South African Leaders Arrive In Israel To Show Support

Following tensions between Israel and South Africa over the Gaza War and accusations Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in the coastal strip, 14 representatives of the country, including religious and community leaders arrived in Israel on Monday (25th) for a special visit during which they toured southern Israel and saw the Nova Music Festival site.  On Tuesday (26th), the representatives visited the Knesset.

The visit was organized by the Israeli advocacy group DiploAct, together with the South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) organization.  The visit is aimed at showing solidarity with the State of Israel and for the officials to distance themselves from the decisions of the South African government.  Members of the delegation clarified that they are ashamed of their government’s decision and statements against Israel.

During their visit, the representatives will meet with the hostages’ families, Israeli officials and community leaders, in addition to touring significant religious and historical sites in the country.

One of the members of the delegation, Bhelekazi Mabandla, who is descended from the South African royal line, said: “As a South African, I don’t support my government’s decision.  It’s very sad that the South African government has taken this path instead of choosing one of dialogue, reconciliation and peace,” he said.

South African Parliament member Marie Sukers added, “The apartheid and genocide narrative adopted in the African National Congress (ANC) completely ignores South Africa’s Christian population – which has strong ties with Israel – and the significance of our story in the conflict.  It is very sad to see that the South African leadership has forgotten what prevented a civil war in our country.” 

Bafana Modise, a veteran radio host in South Africa, spoke during the delegation’s visit to the Nova Music Festival site.  “I find it difficult to understand how my government defends those who murdered 400 youth at a party for no reason.  We have parties in South Africa.  I don’t want to think that such a horrible thing would happen to us.  I’m ashamed this is my government’s decision.”

“Our leaders hosted Hamas leaders who are behind such a horrible murder of 400 people who came here to dance.  It’s outrageous,” he added.  “What they did to you is genocide, not what you did to Hamas.  We are here and we see it with our own eyes, and when we go home we will speak of what we saw.”

“We support peace, dialogue and coexistence, but terrorism is terrorism.  Evil is evil.  What we saw here is absolute evil.  We’re not willing to have our government speak on our behalf.  They can’t exploit our government to justify terrorism, evil and such atrocities,” he concluded.

DiploAct head Amit Deri said that “while some cower close to evil and terror, there are some courageous ones who stand by Israel in its just war against Hamas.  We thank the South African community and parliament leaders for their choice to come here and support us.  We’ll continue to fight anti-Israel propaganda and boycott organizations when and wherever needed.”



IDF Troops Hail Elderly Reservists As They Rejoin The Ranks

At 71, both Itzik Grossman and Itzik Mishael  didn’t hesitate for a minute and re-enlisted in the IDF following October 7; ‘This is what needs to be done, it gives us great satisfaction and pride,’ they say.

Until about two years ago, Lt.Col (res.) Itzik Grossman, 71, was still volunteering for reserve duty.  However, following the events of October 7, Lt. Col. Grossman, a combat navigator who fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War with the 119th Squadron and also participated in the First Lebanon War, donned his uniform again and re-enlisted.

“I received a call that volunteers were needed, and immediately joined the effort,” he recounts.  In October, I completed an Air Force auxiliary officer course, and since then, I’ve been in the reserves.  We as auxiliary officers, mediate between the Air Force and ground forces that require assistance, coordinating support for them with combat aircraft or conducting rescues with helicopters.  In this war, the Israeli Air Force provides support unlike anything before.”

Grossman never imagined he’d volunteer for the army again at his ripe age and face field conditions.  “Living in a tent with another hundred people and communal showers – I’d already forgotten what that looked like.  But that’s what needs to be done now and I’m glad for the opportunity to contribute,” he said.

“I mostly serve with reservists younger than me, from all walks of life,” he added.  “In the first months of the war, when we were stationed in the south, an officer approached me and said, ‘You don’t know what it does to us to see you here.  When we see a person your age volunteering, we understand what we’re doing here, and it gives us motivation.’”

“I’ve been thanked many times,” says the 71-year-old reservist.  “My family is very supportive and appreciative of my volunteering, and my grandchildren are very proud of me and support me.”

In his current reserves duty, Grossman also managed to close a personal circle, as part of the team for the Carmeli Brigade, where his cousin David Yeshayahu Grossman, fell in battle in Jenin during Israel’s War of Independence, whom he never got to know.

“I grew up hearing stories about him; we were in touch with the brigade and attended memorial events, and now it’s moving to serve in the same place he did,” Grossman said.  “The people of the Carmeli Brigade, alongside whom I fight today are mostly from the Golan Heights – excellent individuals, each one of them.  I salute them for their determination, dedication to the mission and readiness to continue until completion.”

Itzik Grossman is not the only septuagenarian enlisted for duty; Itzik Mishael, 71 arrived from Miami to Israel to join his reserve unit.

In 1966, when Mishael was 14, his family immigrated to the United States.  In 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Mishael was a fourth-year business administration student.  Without hesitation, he left everything behind and came to Israel to enlist.

“I arrived as a lone soldier straight to basic training in Rafah,” Mishael recalled.  From there I moved to the Julis base and later deployed to the Sinai with the 500th Brigade.  I served on the front line there for eight months, and then continued to a tank commander’s course.”

I was assigned to the 188th Brigade’s 71st battalion.  When I was interviewed for the battalion, it was by Yoni Netanyahu (the late brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fell in the 1976 Entebbe raid and was the battalion commander at the time).  I served there for nine months in the Golan Heights.  It was then a personal pride for me and immense satisfaction to serve my country,” he added.

“My entire family is in Miami, but after October 7, with all the turmoil in Gaza border towns and the war breaking out, I felt a strong need to return to my homeland and enlist in my battalion and assist in any way possible.”

“It was important for me to physically come to Israel and volunteer to assist my battalion, to be in the field with the soldiers.  Fortunately, they accepted me, and there I do all sorts of logistical work.  It gives me great pride and satisfaction to assist the soldiers of my battalion.

“Now I plan to return for a short visit to Miami, but not to end my reserve duty.  While in Miami I plan to raise donations to purchase essential equipment for the soldiers of the battalion.  Even when I return to my residence in Miami, my heart remains in Israel.”



Israel Has Created A New Standard For Urban Warfare – John Spencer

In its operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza to root out Hamas terrorists, the Israel Defense Forces took unique precautions to protect the innocent.  Doctors accompanied the forces to help  Palestinian patients if needed.  The IDF also brought in food, water and medical supplies for the civilians inside.

I’ve never known an army to take such measures to attend to the enemy’s civilian population, especially while simultaneously  combating the enemy in the very same buildings.  In fact, Israel has implemented more precautions to prevent civilian harm than any military in history – above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The international community and increasingly the U.S., barely acknowledges these measures while repeatedly excoriating the IDF for not doing enough to protect civilians – even as it confronts a ruthless terror organization holding its citizens hostage.

The predominant Western theory of executing wars seeks to shatter an enemy with surprising, overwhelming force and speed.  No warnings to the civilian population or time to evacuate cities is given.  Yet Israel has abandoned this established playbook in order to prevent civilian harm.

The Hamas-supplied estimate of over 31,000 deaths in Gaza does not acknowledge a single combatant death (nor any deaths due to the misfiring of its own rockets or other friendly fire).  The IDF estimates it has killed about 13,000 Hamas operatives, a number I believe credible because I believe the armed forces of a democratic American ally over a terrorist regime.  That means 18,000 civilians have died in Gaza. a ratio of 1 combatant to 1.5 civilians – a number that would be historically low for modern urban warfare.

The writer is chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point.  (Newsweek)



Hamas’ Full Plan For Oct. 7 Revealed

Veteran journalist Ilan Kfir told Israel’s Channel 11 that Hamas had an operative plan to reach the heart of Tel Aviv on Oct.7, but was ultimately thwarted.  “If [Hamas’] phase one plan was successful, they would go on to phase two – and it was prepared with large forces ready on standby and prepared to set off at noon.”

“At the heart of the plan was a breach in two areas, in the north as well as in the south and east, towards [Israel’s nuclear facility in] Dimona, which was singled out by the group as a very central target.  The goal of the operation would have been a raid on Tel Aviv.  They marked several focal points in the city that were expected to be crowded in the afternoon and evening in order to carry out a mass massacre in the city.”

“Towards noon on Oct. 7, when Sinwar and his central command realized that they had achieved success above and beyond what was expected, an order was given to the forces of phase two to set off.  Here, they encountered a big surprise because unlike in the morning – when…there was minimal IDF presence in the area – there was already an assessment and a huge influx of forces into the Nevatim area where a large blockade was carried out.”

“There is no doubt that if Hamas had carried out its second phase, the trauma and disaster on Oct. 7 would have been doubled.  Maps found with terrorists indicated that they intended to reach Kiryat Gat.  After that, a plan was discovered…to attack Shikma Prison in Ashkelon and release terrorists.  Another plan was to attack the Hatzerim air base.”  (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)