Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 53rd Day of War – The 5th Day of the ‘Pause’

Israel and Hamas agreed on Monday to extend by two days a cease-fire that has brought a measure of calm to the region after seven weeks of intense warfare. The two sides struck a deal to exchange more hostages and prisoners and allow more aid into Gaza.

Last night, on the final evening of the initial four-day agreement to pause hostilities, Hamas released 11 Israelis, including 3-year-old twins and their mother, and Israel provided to Hamas a list of 33 Palestinian prisoners it planned to set free later Monday night, keeping to the three-to-one ratio as previously agreed.

The deal came after an Israeli offer to continue the cease-fire by one day for every additional 10 hostages released, who would be exchanged for 30 Palestinians currently in Israeli prisons.

Israeli officials have expressed concerns to Qatari mediators that some children were being released without mothers who were also being held captive, running counter to the agreement, according to an official briefed on the talks. The official said Hamas has said that in those cases, the mothers are being held by different groups, and it would take time to get them. Late Monday, Israel’s Army Radio, citing the prime minister’s office, reported that the government had received a list of hostages held by Hamas who are expected to be released today.

The number of women and children still being held in Gaza is unclear. The cease-fire deal initially included the release of 50 women and children because that was the number Hamas had been able to locate, the prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told The Financial Times in an interview published on Sunday. More than 40 women and children were being held hostage by groups other than Hamas, Mr. al-Thani said, adding that Israel was willing to extend the cease-fire if “there’s proof” that Hamas has more women and children to release.

While there is a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the Lebanese border continues to see exchanges of fire between Hizballah and Israel. While there have been no Israeli casualties over the last few days, the situation there remains tense.  There are also continued raids by Israel on locations in the West Bank as Israel identifies the location of Palestinian terrorists and goes after them.

Worldwide support for the Palestinian cause and even sometimes praise for Hamas is part and parcel of demonstrations against Israel, the country that suffered the worst one day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. While the demonstrations ostensibly claim that they are intended to voice objection to the bombing of Gaza by Israel, the fact is the demonstrations began in earnest even before Israel dropped the first bomb on Gaza after the October 7th attack. Even worse, the size of the demonstrations, their professional organization, and the paraphernalia which seemed to have emerged from nowhere, makes a good case for those who believe that the organizers knew what Hamas was planning and had demonstrators lined up for this purpose well before the events of the 7th.

The worldwide condemnation of Israel which these demonstrations encourage is testimony to the deterioration of the world’s moral compass. In the face of overwhelming proof that Hamas cares so little about its own people that it is willing to stand by and watch them killed in the name of Jihad, the world still points to Israel as the cause of the war. The oppressed have become the oppressors in the cruelest twist of logic that one can imagine. Those who stand idly by and allow this to happen are, themselves, part of the problem.

We need to remind ourselves of the words of Elie Wiesel, when he said: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  Remaining neutral is not an option.

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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