Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 129th Day of War

As the 129th day of war in Israel dawned, there was good news out of Gaza.  IDF troops found and freed two hostages who have been held by Hamas since October 7th.  Both male, one is 60 years of age and the other is 70, and both of them seem to be in good health.  Nevertheless, they were immodestly flown to Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv for evaluation and treatment as needed.

Over the past weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the IDF and the defense establishment to bring to the war cabinet a plan for both the evacuation of civilians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and the neutralization of the four Hamas battalions therein.  “It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war without eliminating Hamas, and by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah,” the Prime Minister noted. “On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat.”

Egypt has opined that if Israel chooses to engage militarily in Rafah it has the potential to scuttle the peace accords between Egypt and Israel.   There is, as well, virtually complete global opposition to Israel’s intention to conduct military operations in Gaza which would undoubtedly results in mass civilian casualties.

US President Joe Biden issued a memorandum linking American military aid globally to adherence to international humanitarian law, including that for Israel, as he called the IDF’s military operation in Gaza “over the top.” Forms of military aid could be suspended If reports of violations are found credible, according to the National Security Memorandum.  Countries currently at war and receiving military aid have 45 days, by February 8, to assure the US that they will comply with the memorandum or risk a pause in the delivery of that aid.  Others have 90 days to submit their reports.  The memorandum was issued as an executive order following a visit to Israel last week by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who underscored for Israeli officials the importance of treating humanitarian issues relating to the IDF’s campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza in a serious manner.  The President spoke with the Prime Minister for 45 minutes as well over the last weekend.

The Hostage and Missing Families Forum intends to file a lawsuit against Hamas at the International Criminal Court, with a delegation from the Forum set to head to the Hague on Wednesday, Ynet reported on Saturday.  The delegation, which will include about 100 representatives and attorneys from Israel and abroad, will file the suit which the forum has worked on for the past four months.  Of course, it is not clear that even if the court rules in favor of the motion, to whom it would be addressed as Hamas is not a country but rather a movement in power in a non-state player, i.e. the Palestinian Authority.

Credit ratings agency Moody’s on Friday concluded its review of Israel and downgraded the country to “A2” from “A1”, citing material political and fiscal risks for the country due to its war with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. “While fighting in Gaza may diminish in intensity or pause, there is currently no agreement to end the hostilities durably and no agreement on a longer-term plan that would fully restore and eventually strengthen security for Israel,” Moody’s said in a statement. Moody’s said that the credit rating drop came following an assessment of Israel’s current climate. “The ongoing military conflict with Hamas, its aftermath and wider consequences materially raise political risk for Israel as well as weaken its executive and legislative institutions and its fiscal strength, for the foreseeable future,” the statement said.

In the first cast of an Israeli ally limiting the flow of military supplies to Israel. a Dutch appeals court on Monday ordered the government to block all exports of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel over concerns they were being used in violation of international law during Israel’s Gaza offensive.  “It is undeniable that there is a clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law,” the court said.

It said the state had to comply with the order within seven days and dismissed a request by government lawyers to suspend the order during an appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court.

The case against the Dutch government was brought by several human rights groups, including the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam, last December.  Israel denies committing war crimes in its attacks on Gaza, which followed the Hamas cross-border raid on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 240 were taken hostage.

 Future Leadership

Today we feature Dr. Ami Appelbaum, the former Chief Scientist and Chairman of the Board of Israel Innovation Authority as a potential future leader for Israel.

He has almost 40 years’ experience in research, development and senior level management in the field of semiconductors. He served for 22 years at numerous executive positions at KLA Tencor, and is a world leader in the business of capital equipment for the semiconductor industry. His most recent position at KLA was Corporate Senior Vice President and president of KLA Tencor Israel.

Dr. Appelbaum holds PhD and Masters’ degrees from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and an Engineering degree from Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheba, all in the field of materials engineering.  He is the author and co-author of more than 50 scientific and technical publications, and holds 7 patents in the field of semiconductor equipment and processing.

Clearly a new government will be able to make good use of someone with his experience and knowledge of Israel’s tech platform.

Sadly, the casualties of war continue to mount as do the resultant convoys of families escorting sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers to local military cemeteries for burial. But what can we say to those who are escorting the bodies of loved one to an early grave?  Nothing more than how immensely grateful we are for their sacrifice, how much we hope that it will not be in vain and how we pray that the killing will stop sooner rather than later so that everyone can return to his or her residence and do so in safety and security.  May their collective memories be blessed and may the families involved know of no further sorrows,

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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