Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 143rd Day of War

 On the 143rd day of the war the Israeli cabinet today approved both a military operation into Rafah to destroy the final vestiges of Hamas and an evacuation plan for the over 1.3 million Palestinians crowded into that small area near Egypt’s southern border.  On CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Netanyahu said “I’ve asked the army to submit a double plan, the first to enable the evacuation of the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and, obviously, the second, to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions. That gets us a real, real distance towards the completion of our victory, and we’re not going to give it up,”

“Once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion, not months, weeks away from completion,” Netanyahu said, as he indicated that the Israel-Hamas war could be wrapped up this spring.  “We’ve already destroyed 18 of the 24 Hamas terrorist battalions. So, we have four of them concentrated in Rafah. We can’t leave the last Hamas stronghold without taking care of it, obviously, we have to do it,” Netanyahu said as he defended the pending operation which has drawn worldwide condemnation even before it has begun.

Netanyahu spoke as Israel has expressed cautious optimism about the possibility of a deal for the release of the remaining 134 hostages out of the 253 Hamas seized during its attack on southern Israel on October 7, which sparked the Gaza war.

Regarding the hostages in Gaza, the United States, Egypt, Qatar, and Israel have come to an understanding of the “basic contours” of a hostage deal for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday. The deal is still under negotiation, said Sullivan, who added there would have to be indirect discussions with Hamas by both Qatar and Egypt.  Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday said it was not clear yet whether a hostage deal would materialize from ongoing talks, declining to discuss specifics but saying the Islamist terrorist group Hamas needed to “come down to a reasonable situation.”  If the deal goes through it is expected that an additional 40 hostages would be released, primarily women, children, old people and female members of the IDF.

Meanwhile, he Hostage and Missing Families Forum announced that the families of the hostages are inviting the public to a “giant march” that will last four days from the Gaza border to Jerusalem.  This march will occur amid ongoing hostage negotiations. The march will begin on Wednesday from the Re’im parking lot, and pass through Sderot, Kiryat Gat, Beit Guvrin, and Beit Shemesh. The march will end on Saturday in Jerusalem. The forum said that “the return of the hostages is the national duty of the entire people of Israel.”

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant indicated today that he expects the activity on the northern border with Lebanon to continue even if there is a temporary pause in the war agreed to with Hamas in Gaza.  As such the Israeli Government today authorized the extension of the evacuation order for the 60,000 residents of Northern Israel to at least July with some arguing that it should remain in place through August.

Earlier today the IDF struck Hezbollah terror targets deep inside Lebanon. At least two simultaneous strikes hit near Lebanon’s city of Baalbek, two security sources told Reuters, in the first bombardment of eastern Lebanon since regional hostilities erupted following the start of the war in Gaza. Two Hezbollah operatives were killed in that attack, security sources told Reuters.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli media reported Monday morning.  Shtayyeh, a member of ruling party Fatah’s Central Committee, has been Palestinian prime minister since 2019.  This may signal the intent of the Palestinian Authority to replace the current leadership with technocrats which they believe will make rapprochement with Hamas easier.

Future Leadership

Today I highlight a master teacher, Dr. Zohar Raviv.  He is an internationally recognized educator of Judaism who serves as the International VP of Education for Taglit-Birthright Israel. Prior to assuming his current position, Raviv served as Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Oberlin College (Ohio) and as the Hebrew University Florence Melton Scholar to North America.

An advocate for civil rights and social education he is passionate about the unity of the Jewish people but not uniformity. He believes that Jews should recognize that we are not uniform in our beliefs, our color or our ideas but all need to be committed to national unity.

Raviv is a graduate of Bar-Ilan University (B.A, Land of Israel Studies), Brandeis University (joint M.A, Judaic Studies and Jewish Education), and received an additional M.A. as well as his PhD in Jewish Thought from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).

To get some sense of how this Class A educator thinks feel free to see this short 14-minute EL-TALK of his from 2015:

or his short 8-minute talk at Temple Sinai in Los Angeles last shabbat which you can see here:

The Education Ministry would be well served by someone with insights such as these and how they should morph into practical pedagogy.

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.