Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 100th Day of War

As Israel marked 100 days of war with Hamas, the Prime Minister spoke to the nation on Saturday night emphasizing the point that the war will not end until Israel’s objectives are met. There has been no change in the goals that Israel set out after the October 7th massacre by Hamas.

In further elaboration of Israel’s plans, the Prime Minister stated that military action will be authorized at the southern end of the Gaza strip in order to establish Israeli control over the Rafah Crossing into Egypt. Israel’s objectives here are to make sure no contraband comes through to Gaza from the Egyptian side. Egypt has raised some concerns about this idea as it may be in conflict with the peace agreement signed with Israel and which specifies how many troops each country can have on their shared borders.

On the northern border with Lebanon, four suspected terrorists crossed into Israel on Saturday night and were neutralized by IDF forces. While rocket fire has all but dried up from Gaza (just two rockets on Saturday and none so far today) tit for tat exchanges of rockets and artillery continues in the north with damage to some evacuee’s homes in the border-hugging town of Shtula.

In recorded phone calls with IDF officers, residents of Gaza railed against Hamas and its leadership. The recordings were published by the IDF on Sunday. The conversations took place between residents of the besieged Strip and officers of Unit 504 in the Intelligence Division. “Tell your leaders: Hamas people are abroad, outside of Palestine, screw them outside of Palestine, kill them,” one Gazan said. “I am telling you in the name of our nation. I am sitting alone, and I’m screwed. Everything’s destroyed. They’re all abroad, sitting around in hotels. F**k them up. Curse their fathers. Sitting around in hotel rooms.”

The dialogue continued…..“Listen, listen to what the people around me are saying, may Allah protect us from you, Hamas,” the Gazan said. “Allah will curse them, Allah will curse them and those that voted for them…They destroyed us, pushed us 100 years into the past. May Allah bring disaster upon them. Our people are their hostages. Those dogs are taking advantage of their power over us.”

The Israeli medical community, usually reluctant to consider such scenarios, has recently actively been preparing for the appalling possibility of several female hostages who were raped in captivity and subsequently become pregnant. According to sources who spoke with Maariv, there have been comprehensive discussions in hospitals across the country about preparing for the return of Israeli hostages who have been sexually assaulted by Hamas terrorists and are currently at different stages of pregnancy. Israeli law permits abortions, granting women the autonomy to decide their course of action. However, the state is now faced with the daunting task of addressing the enduring trauma that will affect the victims and their families for a lifetime.

Sunday represents the 100th day since the Hamas massacre, and among the 136 hostages still held by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip are women who are shrouded in a heavy cloud of concern, a topic not discussed enough. Reports from October 7 indicated that the terrorists committed heinous acts of rape, and testimonies from some of the returned hostages suggested that the women endured sexual harassment, possibly including rape, while in captivity. These disturbing assessments have prompted gynecologists to hold internal discussions in recent weeks about the dreadful possibility that captives were raped and have been pregnant for several weeks.

Seeking Future Leadership

Karen Tal, the CEO of Amal, a secular educational network whose mission is to serve Israelis of all religions, is another professional whose talents in rebuilding Israel’s post-war educational system can be put to good use. For the record, about 40% of Amal’s 81 high schools and colleges are located in Arab or Druze communities. In all, over 30,000 students and 2,500 teachers are part of Amal schools.

Tal, 59, who immigrated to Israel from Morocco as a young child grew up in Jerusalem. She believes that: “Right now, this question of coexistence is so relevant to each one of us.” Tal’s background and experience puts her in a unique position to deal with the monumental challenge of helping Israeli children of all ethnic backgrounds heal from the national trauma of war.

More than a decade ago, Tal gained international renown for transforming the Bialik-Rogozin School in impoverished south Tel Aviv into one of Israel’s most successful educational models. Tal took over as principal in 2005, she combined the elementary and high schools into one entity, transformed the school into a model of coexistence, and reversed its academic decline.

In 2011, Tal won Israel’s National Education Prize for her achievements, HBO made a film about the school called “Strangers No More,” which won an Oscar for best short documentary. She then was awarded the $100,000 Charles Bronfman Prize given to a Jewish humanitarian under age 50 whose work is grounded in Jewish values but benefits humanity universally. She used the prize money to create a nonprofit called Tovanot B’Hinuch (Educational Insights) and spent the next decade implementing her educational model — which employs long school days, volunteer private tutors and extracurricular courses — in at least 40 other schools in Israel.

“I have three goals: for our students to develop self-confidence, then develop and identify with the village or community they live in, and finally to develop an Israeli identity,” Tal says. “My basic premise is we are not going anywhere, and the Palestinians are not going anywhere. We must live together. But this is about defining what we can and cannot do. And we should both agree that terrorism is outside the rules of the game.”

Sounds to me like she would make a great Minister of Education, would she not?

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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