On this 103rd day of the war IDF forces continue to search underground in the Khan Yunis area of the Gaza Strip to locate Hamas leadership. On the northern border with Lebanon IDF generals are stating that Israel is ready for war with Hezbollah if necessary and can move on a moment’s notice. Meanwhile Lebanese shelling of northern Israel continues with regular retaliation by the IDF stationed there.
Regarding the Hamas tunnel network, Israel has unearthed more of a subterranean fortress under Gaza. One tunnel in Gaza was wide enough for a top Hamas official to drive a car inside. Another stretched nearly three football fields long (300 yards = 274 meters) and was hidden beneath a hospital. Under the house of a senior Hamas commander, the IDF found a spiral staircase leading to a tunnel approximately seven stories deep. These details and new information about the tunnels, some made public by the IDF and documented by video and photographs, underscore why the tunnels were considered a major threat to the Israeli military in Gaza even before the war started.
But Israeli officials and soldiers who have since been in the tunnels say the scope, depth and quality of the tunnels built by Hamas have astonished them. Even some of the machinery that Hamas used to build the tunnels, observed in captured videos, has surprised the IDF. Israel now believes there are far more tunnels under Gaza than first thought. In December, the network was assessed to be an estimated 250 miles. Senior Israeli defense officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, are currently estimating the network is between 350 and 450 miles — extraordinary figures for a territory that at its longest point is only 25 miles. Two of the officials also assessed there are close to 5,700 separate shafts leading down to the tunnels.
On the hostage front, the Qatari foreign ministry announced on Tuesday that an agreement was reached between Israel and Hamas to send mich-needed medications and aid into Gaza. Israel and Qatar have included the transfer of life-saving medicine to the hostages in the Gaza Strip during the last round of talks, according to reports by Israeli media on Saturday. The agreement reached between Israel and Hamas stipulated that “medicine along with other humanitarian aid is to be delivered to civilians in the Gaza Strip, in the most affected and vulnerable areas, in exchange for delivering medication needed for Israeli captives in Gaza,” Qatar said in a statement. The medications will leave Doha today for a landing strip in the Sinai peninsula and will then be transported to Egypt, where they will be prepared to be transported into Gaza.
The US is involved in negotiations in Qatar that are reportedly aimed at bringing an end to the Israel-Hamas War in exchange for a return of the hostages held by Hamas, Israeli media, citing a report, publicized on Tuesday. The US has worked with Qatar and Egypt to mediate a deal for the release of the 136 captives seized during the Hamas-led attack on October 7 and still held there.
In the Red Sea area, the US carried out a new military strike against Houthi ballistic missiles in Yemen on Tuesday, but the latest salvo against the Iran-backed group left the US grappling with how to stop a battle-hardened foe from disrupting shipping lanes critical for global trade. The strikes on Tuesday, the third overall against the group since a US-led air and naval barrage hit dozens of targets last week, destroyed four missiles that the Pentagon’s Central Command said posed an imminent threat to merchant vessels and Navy ships traveling through the Red Sea and nearby waters. But the pre-emptive American strike also came on the third day in a row the Houthis have defied the US and its allies by firing missiles at passing ships, damaging a Greek-owned cargo vessel on Tuesday. The Houthis damaged a US-owned commercial ship on Monday after attempting to hit an American warship the day before.
Seeking Future Leadership
While to date most of the future leaders I’ve profiled have been from the private sector, there are some people like Sam Grundwerg, who have spent their professional lives in the public sector and have done a first-rate job without bluster and self-aggrandizement.
Grundwerg has served as World Chairman of Keren Hayesod–UIA (United Israel Appeal) since December 2018. Immediately prior to this role, he was the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles as the senior representative of Israel to the Southwestern United States. Before his diplomatic posting as Consul General, he served as Director General in Israel for the World Jewish Congress, the international organization representing Jewish communities in over 100 countries to governments, parliaments and other international organizations.
Prior to joining the World Jewish Congress, Grundwerg worked as an attorney at a major international law firm in the United States and held positions in the fields of law and finance in the United States and Israel. He earned his Juris Doctor law degree from the University of Miami School of Law and holds an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Miami School of Business, as well as an undergraduate degree from Bar Ilan University. He was named two years in a row (2022 and 2023) by the Jerusalem Post as one of the top 50 most influential Jews in the world.
Sadly the funerals of those killed in combat continue throughout Israel. We hope that the government is thinking strategically how best to move forward so that the lives of those lost will not have been in vain. May their memories be for a blessing.