Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 117th Day of War

The IDF continued their active engagement in the northern and central regions of the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours, targeting the Hamas terrorist infrastructure and eliminating a significant number of terrorists in the area, the IDF Spokesperson Unit reported on Wednesday.  In recent days, combat units from Brigade 162 have maintained their presence in the northern and central zones of the Gaza Strip, relentlessly pursuing terrorist elements. These efforts have resulted in the neutralization of numerous terrorists and the dismantling of key terrorist infrastructure.  The 401st Brigade, in particular, has been instrumental in combating terrorism in the northern area of the Strip. Through several confrontations with armed militants, they successfully eliminated more than 15 terrorists affiliated with the Hamas terror organization.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al Thani attempted to douse optimism about an imminent deal for the release of the 136 hostages, even as he expressed optimism that a deal was in the works, of which the first phase would see the release of women and elderly male captives.  “I think we have reached an agreement with the Israelis in order to have it as a starting point, but it needs a lot of resolution and negotiating the details also with Hamas to get into an agreement,” Thani told Fox News in an interview he granted them on Tuesday while visiting Washington. “We always want to be optimistic, but we shouldn’t also over-promise. The process is still at the beginning, so it will need some time to evolve,” Thani explained.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing one of the toughest political decisions of his long career: Who should govern Gaza after Hamas?  So far, he seems to be dodging it. The question is politically explosive because any answer that would satisfy Israel’s military and our main international allies, especially the U.S., also risks detonating the governing coalition and ending Bibi’s hold on power. The U.S. and key Arab governments want the Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank and is Hamas’s main rival in Palestinian politics, to oversee Gaza. That is anathema to much of the right-wing Likud party and the other far-right coalition partners. Israel’s Defense Ministry rejects that, fearing that achievements in thr war effort could be rolled back because of a political vacuum in Gaza that allows Hamas to reassert itself.  Current and former officials warn that Netanyahu’s indecision is making it harder to win the war. Last week, 43 former top officials of Israel’s military and intelligence services wrote to the country’s head of state, President Isaac Herzog, calling for Netanyahu’s removal as prime minister.  Israel’s military believes the war effort in Gaza urgently needs a civil authority to deliver humanitarian aid, restore order and basic services, and manage nearly two million displaced residents, Israeli officials say. The bulging refugee population in a shrinking area of Gaza’s south, leading to a worsening humanitarian crisis, is greatly complicating Israeli forces’ effort to defeat Hamas there, officials and analysts say.  The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also urging Israel to reach an agreement on who will govern Gaza after the war, including overseeing its reconstruction.

The IDF confirmed on Tuesday that it has been flooding tunnels in Gaza with seawater, revealing new details on what has been named “Operation Atlantis”. According to the IDF, it has been neutralizing underground terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip by pumping water into them. The announcement specifies that units in the IDF and the Ministry of Defense jointly developed tools for injecting water at a high rate into Hamas tunnels, as part of the variety of tools the IDF is using to deal with the tunnels.  The army emphasized that water injection occurs only in tunnels found suitable for this purpose.

“This project is one of the tools developed by the IDF and the security establishment in recent years to deal with Hamas’ underground infrastructure,” the IDF said. “This basket of tools includes attacks from the air, underground maneuvering, and special operations with technological means. This tool constitutes a significant engineering and technological breakthrough in dealing with the underground challenge and was developed in the joint work of various bodies in the security system.”  Operation “Atlantis” commenced at the end of last year when Israel began installing pumps in the northern Gaza Strip. According to the “Wall Street Journal,” earlier this month, Israel installed at least one pump in Khan Yunis to damage the network of tunnels there. An American official said that water from the Mediterranean Sea was used in the first pumps in Gaza, while water from Israel was used in the new pump.

While there seems to be progress on a number of fronts more and more it appears that early warnings or a long war are coming to fruition as we close in on a full four months of fighting.   Let us hope that some way will be found to end this with honor and a new sense of security for those of us who have chosen to live here.


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.