Israel is now in the 38th day of the war, a war that has become a long haul and definitely not something that people here have experienced previously. The discomfort about the length of the operation is, of course, exacerbated by the hostage situation where the families of the some 240 people who are being held by Hamas are living in a no man’s land of “information silence” not knowing whether their loved ones are even alive.
Rumors abound about the potential release of 80 of the hostages if Israel is prepared to return the Hamas terrorists captured after the October 7th massacre along with resupplying Hamas with fuel, food, medication and Lord knows what else. This is the same Hamas that told the Shifa Hospital people in Gaza just yesterday not to accept an emergency delivery of 300 liters of fuel, even though the hospital claims that because of a lack of fuel their incubators for preemies had to be disconnected. And, of course, the same people that we know have 200,000 liters of fuel in storage exclusively for their military activities. It would appear that there is no end to the madness of Hamas. The latest report this afternoon posits that Hamas has taken the 300 liters of fuel that they would not allow the hospital to accept and is using it for its own needs. Go figure!
44 soldiers have now lost their lives since the battle began with dozens wounded as well. Rocket fire continues to pound Israel from Gaza, but with less frequency than before given Israel’s control of northern Gaza. Yesterday, on the northern border with Lebanon, 21 of our troops were wounded in the give and take that is occurring there. Today 18 tank missiles were fired from Lebanon into the north of Israel with one ending up as a direct strike on Metulla, causing damage but no injuries in the evacuated town.
Concomitantly, the US has experienced 47 attacks on its troops in the region just since October 17th. In retaliation US aircraft have struck installations in Eastern Syria with Defense Secretary Austin threatening to continue responding with escalating firepower.
In some good regional news, Saudi Arabia on Saturday helped to block a bid by Arab and Muslim countries to militarily and economically isolate Israel. Most of the countries present at an Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency summit in Riyadh focusing on the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza sought to impose five measures against the Jewish state. The demands were: (a) to prevent the transfer of U.S. military equipment to Israel from American bases in the Middle East; (b) suspend all diplomatic and economic contacts with Israel; (c) cut back oil sales to the United States over Washington’s support for Israel; (d) stop Israeli air traffic over the skies of the Gulf and (e) send a joint delegation to the United States, Europe and Russia to push for a ceasefire.
To their credit Israel’s Abraham Accords partner states, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, all blocked the measure and were joined by Egypt and Jordan, two countries with long-standing peace agreements with Israel. Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Djibouti also opposed the measures. An Iranian demand that the Israel Defense Forces be designated as a terror organization was also rejected.
For those who want to get a sense of what drives our troops to go into battle tall and proud you might want to spend 25 minutes and watch this wonderful interview with one of our young men and what he and his group went through from October 7th to today. You can see it here:
Tonight at sundown we begin the Hebrew month of Kislev which contains the celebration of Chanukah. It is the story of how a “band of brothers,” the Maccabees, beat back the Greek marauders who had been in control of Jerusalem and then restored the temple to its glory. Let’s hope this will be a positive sign for our victory over those who, once again, have sought to destroy us.