Sherwin Pomerantz

Fighting Continues as do Demonstrations

The IDF on Monday said that its Division 162 has defeated half of Hamas’s battalions in Rafah, including killing at least 550 terrorists, as well as destroyed around 200 tunnel shafts, and eliminated the terror group’s last major rocket inventory. Further, the IDF said that within a couple of weeks it would likely be in control of all of Rafah and that the final battles with the remaining two Hamas battalions in parts of Tel al-Sultan and the eastern part of Shabura are already underway.

In addition, the IDF said that the tunnel network in Rafah, especially near the Philadelphi Corridor with Egypt has been found to be even more complex than those found in Khan Yunis, Jabaliya, and the military quarter of Gaza City.  Currently, the IDF says Division 162, commanded by Brig. Gen. Itzik Cohen, has already achieved operational control of over 60-70% of all of Rafah with all of the 1.4 million or so civilians having long fled to al-Muwasi on the coast, central Gaza and Khan Yunis.

IDF sources also said they believed they had killed more than 550 terrorists, but that this number represented actual bodies seen, versus Hamas forces who entered a structure which was then bombed, but without finding a body.

The Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon almost completely halted its attacks on Israel this week, IDF data showed Tuesday, as US presidential envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in the region in an attempt to prevent all-out war on the Jewish state’s northern border. According to the IDF’s Home Front Command, the most recent alert for rocket and missile fire on the northern border was activated at 3:21 a.m. on Sunday in the area of the Upper Galilee town of Mitzpe Hila, while drone alert sirens last sounded in the north some three hours earlier.

Though a “suspicious aerial target” crossed from Lebanese territory into the maritime space near Acre on Israel’s northern coast on Monday, it was shot down by air defense fighters, and no alerts were triggered.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s last official statement taking responsibility for attacks on Israel was issued through Lebanese media on Saturday. Hochstein, who also serves as a senior adviser for energy and investment to the president, met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu shortly after touching down in Tel Aviv on Monday. The White House official told the premier that de-escalation is possible, but that there is no “magic solution” to the situation, which he said was largely dependent on what happens with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah has refused to negotiate a possible truce with the Jewish state until a full ceasefire is implemented in the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Over one thousand humanitarian aid trucks languished on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday, adding that UN officials claimed that looting of trucks made the distribution of the aid too dangerous. On Sunday, Israel announced a “tactical pause of military activity” along the road stretching from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah al-Din Road before continuing north. The IDF noted that the pause, which took place from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time, was part of a joint effort with the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to increase the amount of humanitarian aid going into Gaza.

The military said that the pause came in light of related talks with the UN and other international organizations. In a video posted by the IDF to X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday, a spokesperson noted that, in coordination with COGAT, more than 35,000 aid trucks entered the strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing since the start of the war.

The military noted that 1,400 hundred trucks had been waiting to be picked up for distribution at the border crossing. According to the WSJ report, no UN trucks had arrived to retrieve the aid by mid-afternoon. However, citing the IDF, the report noted that 21 other trucks had arrived to pick up aid. “We need to keep people safe,” Gaza-based United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) director Scott Anderson told the WSJ. UNRWA has received heavy criticism in Israel and abroad for alleged ties to Hamas. In February, the IDF discovered a Hamas command tunnel underneath UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters. Late last month, the Knesset passed a preliminary bill designating the UN agency as a terrorist organization.

Monday night saw a large demonstration against the Prime Minister at his residence in Jerusalem which is just 150m from where we live. Police used water cannon to disperse the crowd that attempted to breach the barricades that were in place to keep the demonstrators at a safe distance from the residence. Sadly, a number of people were injured. The intent of the demonstration was to underscore the need for action to release the hostages for whom each day pushes their risk of death in captivity to a higher probability level. May they come home soon.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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