Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 145th day of war

On the 145th day of the war Israel continues its efforts to move Palestinians in southern Gaza to areas way from Rafah in anticipation of a military operation there sooner rather than later. Fighting continues nevertheless in all parts of Gaza. Sadly rocket alerts continue to come in to communities located near the Gaza border.

In the north, Hezbollah has fired some 100 rockets at northern Israel since the beginning of the week in response to an IDF strike on its stronghold deep in Lebanon Monday. About 40 rockets were launched over the course of Tuesday morning towards the Galilee and Meron alone, causing no casualties.

The IDF did take rare credit for an assassination in southern Lebanon Monday. Senior Hezbollah terrorist, Hassan Hussein Salami was killed while in a moving car in between villages. Salami was the equivalent of a brigadier general and was responsible for coordinating attacks on civilian and IDF sites in Israel, including the launching of anti-tank missiles at the Kiryat Shmona area and the headquarters of the 769th Brigade. The launches are Hezbollah’s way of showing support for Hamas in its war with Israel. The question is now whether Hezbollah will limit its reaction to just these rocket launches, and whether the IDF will expand its attacks on the terrorists to regain security for tens of thousands of Israeli citizens who were evacuated in October and have yet to come back home.

Details of a revised hostage deal awaiting Hamas’ agreement that would only cover some of the abductees were reported by Reuters on Tuesday. The latest Israeli offer is for 40 hostages who are over the age of 50 and under 19, those who are ill, and all remaining women. In exchange, Israel will stop all military activity for 40 days (i.e. probably the period of Ramadan), release 400 terrorists, including those with blood on their hands, increase the number of humanitarian aid trucks going into Gaza to 500 per day, and deliver thousands of tents and mobile homes for those who fled their homes ahead of the IDF incursion into the Strip. In addition, Israel reportedly agreed to restore the functioning of bakeries and rehabilitate hospitals in the coastal enclave. The IDF has already given fuel and medical supplies to several of the hospitals they cleared of terrorists so that they could continue to function.

Humanitarian aid to Gaza is a controversial subject in Israel, as its critics say it is stolen by Hamas instead of being given to civilians, thereby prolonging the war. According to this outline, Israel stood firm in rejecting Hamas’ demand for a cessation of the war and complete withdrawal of IDF troops from the Gaza Strip.

Qatari media outlet Al Jazeera meanwhile reported Monday night that in exchange for the 40 hostages, Israel has agreed to withdraw its troops from Gazan population centers, stop patrol flights over Gaza for eight hours a day, and allow the gradual return of non-military age civilians to the northern end of the Strip. In both reports, Israel agreed not to rearrest those terrorists whom it releases.

Hamas officials said on Tuesday night that there had been no breakthrough in the mediated talks with Israel aimed at pausing the war and freeing the remaining hostages in the Gaza Strip, one day after President Biden said he was hopeful that a cease-fire would be in place by next week. Basem Naim, a Hamas spokesman, said in a text message that the militant group had yet to formally receive “any new proposals” since senior Israeli officials met with Qatari, Egyptian and US mediators in Paris last week to advance a possible deal.

Another Hamas official, Ahmad Abdelhadi, said that the group was sticking to its demand that Israel agree to a long-term cease-fire and that leaks about the talks were designed to pressure Hamas to soften its position. “We are not interested in engaging with what’s been floated, because it does not fulfill our demands,” Mr. Abdelhadi said Tuesday in a televised interview with al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese broadcaster.

Qatar, a key mediator in the talks, also expressed caution on Tuesday, saying it could not comment on Mr. Biden’s view that negotiators were nearing an agreement. “The efforts are ongoing; all the parties are conducting regular meetings,” Majed al-Ansari, a spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry, told reporters in Doha. “But for now, while we certainly hope it will be achieved as soon as possible, we don’t have anything in our hands so as to comment on that deadline.”

Future Leadership

Another potential leader for the post war government is Sapir Harosh, currently a director on the board of Grip Security. Previously Sapir was with Pitango, Israel’s largest venture capital fund with over $2.5 billion under management. During her time at the fund, Harosh was involved in 20+ investments in early-stage tech start-ups, overseeing eight of them from sourcing to transaction. She also served as an observer in the boards of seven companies, including Komodor, PayEm, Frontegg, Swimm, and companies that are still in stealth mode.

Harosh has an extensive network of relationships, skillfully used to locate teams in preliminary stages as potential companies for investment. This network includes colleagues from elite military units, start-ups, angel investors, accelerators, local and global venture capital funds, and start-up service providers. She works closely and regularly with the entrepreneurs and management teams of all companies, assisting them with client relations, talent recruitment, strategic thinking, product development, introductions to the world’s leading capital funds, etc.

Harosh began her career while serving in IDF’s elite 8200 unit. In her last position there, she was the recipient of the Unit Commander’s Award of Excellence for her work. Following professional service in the IDF, she relocated to New York, where she served as a procurement manager in the Ministry of Defense’s Mission to the US for two years – while taking part in sensitive procurement processes between the two countries, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

Harosh has more than five years of experience in software engineering with expertise in cloud tech and DevOps and, before joining the venture capital world, had worked as a software engineer at RAFAEL (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems) and some start-ups. Harosh holds a B.Sc. in Software Engineering. She is the youngest board member of the 8200 Alumni Association, where she founded the Young Alumni Community. Since founding the community in 2015, she has overseen all operations, including providing opportunities, employment options, networking, and events to the 4,000 community members who, in return, give back by promoting entrepreneurship and technology in the Israeli society. Harosh has volunteered to establish the community, teaming up with 10 other alumni to oversee its affairs.

Harosh is also a board member of Wize, one of Israel’s largest content providers, making science, technology, politics, culture, and other content worlds available to 100,000+ Israelis by providing a platform for speakers in over 2,000 venues throughout Israel. In the past year, she has received recognition for her business and social efforts by being featured on Forbes 30 Under 30, a list of Israel’s 30 most influential people under 30 years old, published annually by Forbes Magazine.

For those who wonder if we have the talent to take Israel to its next stage of growth, Sapir is a shining example of people who can make a difference.

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.