Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 138th day of war

On the 138th day of the war against Hamas, IDF troops continue mop up operations in the Khan Yunis area. They are scouring all of the facilities abandoned by the Hamas leadership when they left the area. This includes a large cache of weapons of different types, communication equipment and related military supplies. Some of this same activity is being replicated in the Rafah area as well.

US envoy Brett McGurk is due to arrive in Cairo later today to meet with Egyptian, Qatari and Hamas representatives. He will present a US sponsored temporary cease-fire plan that would begin when Ramadan starts (about March 10) and continue through the end of the month-long religious observance. It would be a temporary halt in hostilities under which some (but clearly not all…bummer) of the hostages would be released, as would some Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails. No doubt the released hostages would include those with American citizenship. Additional humanitarian aid would also enter the strip. Such a lull in the fighting would also give what’s left of the Hamas leadership time to regroup, something Israel is not so happy about. Israel did not sent representatives to Cairo for this meeting.

Washington stood alone on Tuesday in voting down an Algeria-drafted resolution that demands an immediate humanitarian halt to hostilities in Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, along with the return of hostages still being held captive in Gaza since Oct. 7 and the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid into the Strip. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, told the 15-member council that the Biden administration is engaged in ongoing negotiations to bring about a six-week pause in the fighting. If adopted, the resolution on the table on Tuesday would “negatively impact those negotiations,” she said.

“Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace,” she said. “Instead, it could extend the fighting between Hamas and Israel, extend the hostages’ time in captivity – an experience described by former hostages as ‘hell’ – and extend the dire humanitarian crisis Palestinians are facing in Gaza.” The United Kingdom abstained from the vote, which was 13-1. Nine votes were needed for passage, but the United States, as one of the body’s five permanent members, can veto any Security Council resolution. This marks the third time the United States wielded its veto of a ceasefire-centered resolution. Washington previously vetoed a Russian amendment to a resolution that would have demanded a ceasefire.

Barbara Woodward, the UK envoy to the global body, said she is “calling for an immediate suspension in fighting,” but it needed to be balanced with assurances that the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on Oct. 7 can never again occur. France supported the Algerian resolution, but its ambassador, Nicolas de Rivière, sided with Washington’s view that it is “incomprehensible” that the council has not directly condemned Hamas’s massacre. South Korea also expressed wishes for an explicit condemnation by the council of Hamas’s attacks.

However, the US has submitted its own ceasefire resolution to the UN Security Council.

UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that this resolution replaces Algeria’s demand for an immediate ceasefire with language that the UNSC “support[s] a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released, and calls for lifting all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale.” This would seemingly agree with Israeli wishes, as our government has repeatedly stated that all of the Israeli and other hostages, both alive and dead, must be returned before it would even think of ceasing its fight against Hamas. Israel has also made clear that at most, it would pause the war for an agreed-upon period, but not end it altogether.

The Israeli army is expanding a road across central Gaza to facilitate its military operations, part of its plans to maintain security control over the enclave for some time, according to defense officials. The gravel-paved road is one of a number of Israeli efforts to reshape the topography of the Gaza Strip – and give our military freedom of movement and a tighter grasp on the territory that was the launchpad for the Oct. 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel and sparked the current conflict. The corridor south of Gaza City, stretching roughly 5 miles from the Israeli border to the coast (note that this is the entire width of Gaza), divides Gaza in two, along an east-west strip of land occupied by Israeli troops since early in the war. This will allow Israel’s military to continue to move quickly across the enclave along a secure route, even after most troops pull out. The Israeli military already controls major north-south roads in Gaza.

The road forms part of an emerging picture of how the IDF is preparing for the next stage of war, when it plans to withdraw from populated areas and concentrate on targeted raids against Hamas. The building and expansion of the road comes as the IDF is also building a roughly 1 kilometer buffer zone just inside Gaza’s border with Israel, where Palestinians would be barred from entry.  US officials have warned Israel repeatedly against altering Gaza’s borders or carving up its current territory. They have publicly voiced opposition to the creation of a buffer zone.

Meanwhile, of course, the corss border activity continues in the north with additions each day to our casualty count. May those brave men and women who have paid with their lives for the security of Israel be granted a special place in the next world.

Future leadership

Today I make reference to the multi-talented Dov Frimer, rabbi, musician, law professor, Israeli lawyer, father and grandfather. A senior partner at the Jerusalem-based law firm of Frimer Gelman & Co., he is an expert in family and inheritance law as well as in Hebrew law.

Born in Chicago, he has lived in Israel for more than 40 years.  He studied at Yeshivat Kerem B’yavneh, holds a bachelor’s degree (honors) from Yeshiva University in the field of Jewish studies and psychology. He was ordained as a rabbi by Rabbi Yehuda Gershoni, head of the Eretz Yisrael Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York. He then went on to study law and graduated with honors from the Faculty of Law at Bar Ilan University followed by a doctorate earned at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He also served in the IDF as a captain (res.) in the office of the legal advisor for the Judea and Samaria region.

In his youth he was involved in music as part of the bands “The Y’did Singers” and “Shivat Zion.” He composed a number of well-known songs, including the famous tune for the popular Chanukah melody “Al Hanisim” which was a winner at an earlier Chasidic Song Festival and has become a standard in Jewish communities worldwide.

He has been an associate professor and director of the Institute of Hebrew Law at New York’s Touro College, an external lecturer in family and Hebrew law at both Tel Aviv University and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also served as deputy chairman of the Rabbinical Courts Committee at the Israel Bar Association as well as chairman of their Family Court and Rabbinical Court Committee.

Between 1997 and 1998 he was a member of the Prime Minister’s Committee for the Formulation of Ideas and Recommendations on Conversion Matters and in 2010 was a member of the Justice Minister’s “Dychovski Committee.”

Today he serves as director of the international board of directors of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center and is acting chairman of the board of directors of the Schlesinger Institute for Torah Medicine Research. In 2009 he was proposed, as well, as a candidate for the position of judge on the Supreme Court of the State of Israel.

If the new government was looking for a highly qualified person to serve in the Ministry of Justice, they could not do much better than Dov Frimer. (Full disclosure here of course, Dov is also my brother-in-law.)

Clearly there is no dearth of talent to create a new and more mature version of government in Israel that will be able to resurrect the contract between the people and the state in a manner that will inspire confidence and bring comfort to all of us who have chosen to make Israel our home.

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.