Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 124th   Day of War

 Hamas rejected the latest U.S.-negotiated hostage deal Tuesday, turning down a long pause in the fighting, the release of many dangerous terrorists, and other troubling terms that we were willing to swallow to free the captives. The Hamas kidnappers say they will keep their 132 hostages—dead or alive—unless Israel ends the war entirely and guarantees Hamas control over Gaza.  Qatar tried to spin Hamas’s answer as a “positive response,” but it’s a repetition of the standard pattern in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: Following Palestinian terror, the U.S. pressures Israel into risky concessions, only for the Palestinians to turn down the offer at their own people’s expense.  Hamas says it wants a “comprehensive and complete cease-fire,” but it certainly doesn’t want peace. If there’s one point on which Hamas has been consistent, it is that it will repeat its Oct. 7 massacre “again and again,” as Politburo member Ghazi Hamad said on Oct. 24.  The latest to beat that drum is senior Hamas official Ali Baraka, last seen explaining on Oct. 8 how Hamas had fooled the Israelis: “We made them think that Hamas was busy with governing Gaza, and that it wanted to focus on the 2.5 million Palestinians,” he said. On Jan. 30 Mr. Baraka, the head of Hamas National Relations Abroad, reiterated that Hamas’s plan and priority is to massacre more Jews.   Speaking on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV in Lebanon, Mr. Baraka boasted, “We can repeat Oct. 7 many times, because once you storm, they collapse. This is how it works with Israel.” Before Oct. 7, he continued, Israelis “were bullheaded because of how they defeated the Arab armies. But today, things have changed. Today, the Arab fighters storm in. They stormed [Southern Israel] and tomorrow, they will storm the Galilee. They will storm in from wherever they can.”  In other words, Oct. 7 today, Oct. 7 tomorrow, Oct. 7 forever.

Regarding the hostages, at least 32 of the remaining 136 hostages captured by Hamas during its Oct. 7 terrorist onslaught are confirmed to have died, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing a confidential Israel Defense Forces intelligence assessment.  Their families have been updated, according to four IDF military officials who spoke anonymously to discuss classified information. Jerusalem was also assessing unconfirmed reports indicating that at least 20 additional captives may no longer be alive, the officials said.  The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents relatives of the captives, on Tuesday evening confirmed the deaths of 31 people held in Gaza.

“According to the official data we have, there are 31 victims,” the forum said in a statement. “Before the article was released, an official message was given to all the families of the abductees by the liaison officers that there is no change in the situation assessment.”   The figure of 32—or possibly even 52— dead captives is significantly higher than previously thought and would mean that more than one-fifth of the remaining hostages have been killed. Last month, Jerusalem said Hamas was believed to be holding 28 bodies in Gaza.

Late this morning, Hamas proposed a ceasefire plan that would quiet the guns in Gaza for four-and-a-half months leading to an end to the war, in response to a proposal sent last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators and backed by the United States and Israel.  According to a draft document seen by Reuters, the Hamas counterproposal envisions three phases lasting 45 days each.  The proposal would see terrorists exchange the remaining Israeli hostages they captured on Oct. 7 for Palestinian prisoners. The reconstruction of Gaza would begin, Israeli forces would withdraw completely, and bodies and remains would be repatriated.  US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived overnight in Israel after meeting the leaders of mediators Qatar and Egypt in the most serious diplomatic push of the war so far aimed at reaching an extended truce. Details of Hamas’s counteroffer have not previously been reported.

On the northern border a number of European countries have meet to craft a cease fire there based on an earlier agreement that was used during the Grapes of Wrath encounter some years ago.  Time will tell if this latest initiative will bear fruit

 Future Leadership

   One of the younger people who have potential to be part of a new government and who does have some prior political experience is Eli Kazhdan, CEO of CityBook Services, Ltd. He earned his BA with Honors from Harvard University in Government and International Relations, and his LLB from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Prior to his current position, Eli was the CEO of StartUp Jerusalem, an economic development corporation focused on attracting investments to Jerusalem and creating employment opportunities in Israel’s capital. From 1996-2002, he served in senior economic positions in the Israeli Government. He was the Chief of Staff to Ministry of Industry & Trade head Natan Sharansky, and then the Chief of Staff in the Ministry of Interior – and was intimately involved with the policy development of these two ministries.  He would bring both experience in government and business to the table once the war ends and new government takes over.

One of my regular correspondents is lamenting the fact that there is nothing logical about how things work in this part of the world.  I agreed with him but pointed out that irrationality is rampant worldwide today when it comes to geopolitics so we are no longer the outliers.

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.