Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 149th Day of War   

On this 149th day of the war the IDF carried out extensive airstrikes in the Rafah area, including near the Philadelphi Corridor along Gaza’s border with Egypt, according to media reports from Gaza. The IDF confirmed that the strikes had hit Islamic Jihad operatives and terrorist infrastructure.  In the north, the IDF struck a vehicle near Naqoura in southern Lebanon on Saturday, killing three operatives belonging to the Imam Hossein Division, an Iranian militia group that operates alongside Hizballah. The operatives were involved in recent rocket fire on Israel. One of the men was a weapons technician, a security source in Lebanon told Reuters. Sadly four of our troops were killed and 14 seriously inured in Gaza on Saturday when they entered a booby trapped building that they understood to be under Israeli control.

Regarding the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, the framework for a deal that would include a six-week pause to the Gaza war is in place, but it is contingent on a positive response from Hamas, a senior US administration official said on Saturday.

“Right now, the ball is in the court of Hamas and we are continuing to push this as hard as we possibly can,” a US official told reporters during a background briefing on a deal that the US hopes will be in place by the start of the holy month of Ramadan on March 10. “The Israelis have accepted .. a six-week cease-fire” as part of a “phased deal” that would “enable a significant surge of the humanitarian work that has to be done,” a US official said.  The sticking point now, the US official said, is the hostages, especially those who are vulnerable, such as women, the sick, and the elderly who would be freed in the first phase. His words echoed other statements that indicated that not all of the remaining 134 hostages would be freed during the six-week pause to the war (and probably a significant number of them may no longer be alive). In the background briefing, the US official said, that this deal is more complex than the one carried out in November. Representatives of Israel and Hamas were scheduled to meet today in Cairo with the other partners to the discussion.

The IDF confirmed on Sunday morning that it had completed its review and found that no drone strike had occurred during an incident last week where Palestinians were trampled to death while attempting to charge an aid convoy. “The IDF has concluded an initial review of the unfortunate incident where Gazan civilians were trampled to death and injured as they charged to the aid convoy. Our initial review has confirmed that no strike was carried out by the IDF towards the aid convoy,” the IDF published statement read. The IDF spokesperson, R-Adm Hagari, also claimed that the IDF had fired warning shots in an attempt to disperse the stampede and that IDF troops had begun retreating from the scene when looters began posing an immediate threat to the forces present. Hagari explained that it was due to this threat that IDF soldiers were forced to respond.

The IDF also confirmed that on Saturday, the US Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Gaza.

Additionally, over the past few weeks, in cooperation and coordination with several countries; Jordan, France, the UAE and Egypt, more than 450 pallets of food and medical aid were distributed via 21 airdrops to the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is calling for the holy month of Ramadan to be a “month of terror” and seeks to escalate attacks in the West Bank and Gaza, a spokesperson for the group said. Abu Hamza, the spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also said he wants Arab countries in the region and pro-Iran groups to continue to “unify” various arenas and fronts against Israel. The speech is the latest indication that terrorist groups will seek escalation over the next month. The statement by Abu Hamza was published by Al-Mayadeen media, which is pro-Iran and frequently highlights Hamas and Hezbollah attacks.  Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a proxy of Iran. It has armed men in Gaza and the West Bank and its leaders often reside in Damascus which they sometimes leave to meet with their Iranian handlers in Tehran or to coordinate with Hamas and Hezbollah.

As many are saying now, the war slogs on with no reasonable end in sight.

Future Leadership

Nevertheless, for an example of what one person can do to address a community need, it is worth meeting Shari Greenwald Mendes. She is an architect who lives in Raanana with her husband, David, and their four children. They came to live in Israel from the US in 2003.

In 2010 Shari was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after treatment, is doing well. She was inspired by her experience to start an NGO (Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund) for needy, newly-diagnosed women, to help them cope with the substantial out of pocket expenses that inevitably come with a serious illness such as breast cancer. Many of these women are desperately poor, often single parents, and IBCERF, by alleviating extreme financial hardship during the first few months after diagnosis, allows these women to focus on the important work of getting well.

In her own words….” Upon recovery, our mission can be to understand what leads to devastation, whether as a nation or in one’s body. In both cases, for real recovery and reconstruction, compassion is needed. We need to work to SEE the other, and to reach out to them. As a nation, when we are tolerant of each other, we are united and strong. Likewise, when people are ill they are weak and in need of support. The most fragile among us cannot help themselves and it is our duty to help them. With medical, communal or financial help, we gift them the fortitude to get treatment and heal.”

Shari is also an IDF army reservist who serves in the unit responsible for preparing the bodies of female IDF soldiers through all the steps in advance of burial. She was one of the people who testified at the UN about the mutilation of women that occurred during the Hamas attack on October 7th. Clearly, Israel needs people like her in a post war government.

May the post war period come soon and may our troops return safely.

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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