Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 75th Day of War

On Wednesday, day 75 of Israel’s war with Hamas, the fighting goes on both in the north and south of Israel although thankfully, the last rocket alert in Israel was at 11 PM Tuesday night.

This could be because the Hamas political leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, is in Egypt now for negotiations about a new hostage release deal coupled with a pause in the fighting. Discussions seem to be centering around the release of an additional 40 hostages (primarily women, the sick and the aged) along with a pause in the fighting and the release of a significant number of Palestinian political prisoners.  No doubt there is a lot more pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to go down this route as a result of our regrettable killing of three Israeli hostages last week after their presumed escape from the clutches of Hamas.

Meanwhile the list of casualties continues to grow with new names of the dead published each day. Our troops have now reached the center of Khan Yunis in the strip where the Hamas leadership is thought to be headquartered. Yet Israeli intelligence indicates that the leadership is quite mobile and not waiting for a visit by the IDF.

Regarding how Hamas operated, Ahmed Kahlot, director of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Gaza’s Jabalya neighborhood, told Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency during an interrogation that Hamas used the hospital for military purposes.  Hamas was given privileges to use the hospital for military actions including hiding its key members, moving terrorists around, and holding a captured soldier. Despite the risk to patients and staff, Kahlot said that Hamas terrorists “hide in hospitals because for them a hospital is a safe place. They won’t be targeted when they are inside a hospital.”

In the hospital, Hamas had access to special offices with private phone lines for its terror leaders, interrogators, and security as well as space to hold the captive IDF soldier. Not only does the terrorist organization use the hospital for military purposes, but it often compelled hospital staff to aid in Hamas’ anti-Israel activities. Ahmed Kahlot said he was recruited by Hamas in 2010 and added, “I know 16 employees in the hospital – doctor, nurse, paramedic, or clerks… who also have different positions in al-Qassam,” referring to the armed wing of Hamas. Hamas even has its own ambulances with special colors and without license plates for transporting supplies, corpses, and hostages. The hospital director echoes much of the criticism other Gazans have expressed of Hamas, “The leaders of Hamas are cowards. They left us in the field while they hid in secret places… They have destroyed us.”

Sadly this war has redefined the concept of resiliency. For us in Israel, resiliency means that given the war footing in which the country has been operating for now over 10 weeks, those of us who are not “at the front” as it were, continue to maintain some reasonable semblance of daily life. This, of course, concomitant with the amazing level of volunteer activity that generated from the first day of the fighting. Everyone is looking out for everyone else and the volunteer community is providing incredible support both to our troops and to the close to 250,000 Israelis who were evacuated from border communities both in the north and the south.

For Hamas, resiliency means continuing to sacrifice their own people in the pursuit of the unattainable goal of eliminating Israel and expelling the almost 7 million Jews who live here and have built the country into the second largest tech hub in the world after Silicon Valley. If we accept the figures of Hamas, to date over 20,000 of Gaza residents have been killed since the start of hostilities and the only thing they have to show for their sacrifice is a physically destroyed entity and over two million despondent people.

Bill Maher, in his last HBO program of the season last Friday night, provides the best analysis of the insanity of this entire situation which can be found here….

If you have not already seen this, I recommend you take the 8 minutes and watch it…..I could not have said it better. Would be useful if our enemies would watch it as well, of course.

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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