Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 55th Day of War

Now 55 days into the war and the pause has been extended for another day with 10 more hostages expected to be released tonight.  To date 120 hostages have been released, 97 Israelis (96 women and children and 1 adult male) as well as 23 foreign workers.  There remain 143 hostages in Hamas captivity as this is being written. 210 Palestinian prisoners previously held in Israeli jails have been released as part of the agreement with Hamas.

While the casualties from the war have been virtually eliminated during the seven days of the pause, the IDF advised this morning that 2,005 Israeli troops have been injured since October 7th and the start of hostilities.  There continues to be some back-and-forth military activity between Israel and Hezbollah on the northern border with Lebanon as well.

Three people were killed and six were wounded, two of them seriously, in a terror shooting attack at the entrance to Jerusalem on Thursday morning.  According to police, at around 7:40 AM local time, two Palestinian gunmen emerged from a vehicle on Weizman Street at the main entrance to the capital and opened fire at people waiting at a bus stop.  Police said two off-duty soldiers and an armed civilian in the area returned fire, killing the two terrorists.  According to the Shin Bet security agency, the pair were Hamas members and had been previously jailed for terror activity.  One was jailed between 2010 and 2020 for planning terror attacks under directions of terror elements in the Gaza Strip and the other was jailed in 2014 for undisclosed terror activity, the agency said. Footage showed that the terrorists were armed with an M-16 assault rifle and a handgun.

Thursday’s attack came as a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip was holding for the sixth day.  Tensions in Israel and the West Bank have been high since October 7th, when some 3,000 terrorists burst through the border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing some 240 hostages.

In an unrelated incident, two Israel Defense Forces reservists were lightly wounded on Thursday afternoon in a car-ramming attack near Moshav Beka’ot in the Jordan Valley.  The troops were evacuated to the hospital and their families were notified, according to the military.  Israeli forces killed the Palestinian terrorist.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at his office in Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon.  It is the fourth time the top U.S. diplomat has visited the Jewish state since the war against Hamas began on Oct. 7.  Blinken then joined Netanyahu and the other War Cabinet members for a meeting.  On the American agenda was discussion about a further extension of the pause in hostilities, and ways to free more hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza. The current 24-hour extension expires on Friday morning.  The secretary of state also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.  Blinken is also scheduled to visit Ramallah and then attend the U.N.’s COP28 climate conference in Dubai.

In what can only be viewed as strange timing, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger passed away last night at the age of 100.  He will be remembered here for his urging former US President, during the 1973 war, not to supply Israel with its request for much needed military support.   Then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir leaned on Kissinger to provide a critical resupply of ammunition for the IDF but could not move him to agree.

Fortunately for us, Nixon saw assisting Israel as being in the US’ best interests and did not accept the recommendation of this Secretary of State.  Instead, he ordered the US Army’s logistical command to provide the ammunition requested.  If one speaks to people who were front line combat troops in that war, they will tell you that the crates of ammunition were flown to Israel and brought directly to the field with the US Army markings clearly visible on each container as there was no time to repack the supplies into Israeli labelled crates which had been the previous custom.

As of this writing it is not clear what will happen after the current pause in fighting expires but discussions are ongoing between the parties.

This is the longest period of fighting that Israel has been involved in since its founding in 1948.  Let’s hope that as November passes in December, that the new Georgian month will signal some clear path to victory and the elimination of Hamas as a threat to our existence here in our homeland.

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.