Sherwin Pomerantz

The 153rd Day of Israel’s War Against Hamas

On this 153rd day of the war, I note that The Wall Street Journal reported recently that according to senior Egyptian officials, a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas could be reached before the start of Ramadan. Later, it was reported that Israel decided not to send anyone to continue talks in Cairo after Hamas refused to include a list of living hostages. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Israel Ziv, former head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate, spoke this morning with Udi Segal and Tal Shalev and addressed the issue.

“I think it’s a mistake not to send the Israeli delegation because not sending the delegation is essentially a kind of protest or objection to something, and it’s not exactly clear to me against whom we are protesting,” Ziv said at the start of the conversation. “It’s not the first time we have done it. If we are doing it to do it against Hamas, we only strengthen their power. Israel behaves like some small child who is being contradictory; we’re just giving them more power. If it’s against the mediators who are trying to help, in the end, they will tire of this. This is our problem.”

According to Ziv, “No one cares about our internal explanations for why we are right. Israel did not raise the issue (of the list of hostages) initially, so even if it’s right, don’t bring it up after the fact.”

Secondly, Ziv explained, “It’s much more important for us to show good will towards those who are constantly making efforts on our behalf, regardless of whether there will be a deal or not. Israel needs to show, for its own public opinion, that it is doing everything for this to happen. You’re asking me if it will happen? I am more skeptical. I have always been skeptical until things happen because I’m not sure that the one who needs to give the answers on the other side is actually functioning.”

For the record, the hostage talks have now been suspended until next week as the Hamas delegation has also left the meeting place in Egypt.

In the Red Sea, a day after a member of Yemen’s Presidential Command Council warned that the Iran-backed Houthis may be escalating attacks on other groups in Yemen, a new report on Wednesday indicates that the Houthis are “preparing for a possible military confrontation in Yemen.” The two reports are from UAE-based AlAin News and indicate that its sources are talking about the growing Houthi threat.  So far, the Houthis have been attacking ships and claim to be supporting Hamas in Gaza. They may be using this as leverage and cover for the next phase of their campaign, however, which could be a war against the government forces of an already divided Yemen.

Regarding what the US has supplied to Israel for the war effort (and for which we are veey grateful), the US has quietly approved and delivered more than 100 separate military sales to Israel since the Gaza war began on Oct. 7, amounting to thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, bunker busters, small arms and other aid, US officials told members of Congress in a recent classified briefing.

Two of the sales had been made public: $106 million worth of tank ammunition and $147.5 million of components needed to make 155 mm shells. The Biden administration bypassed Congress to approve the sales by invoking an emergency authority. The other transactions were processed without any public debate because each fell under a specific dollar amount that requires the executive branch to notify Congress.

A senior State Department official said, “These are items that are typical for any modern military, including one that is as sophisticated as Israel’s.”

So it appears that contrary to the possibility that I raises earlier in the week it does not look as if the war will end tomorrow.  Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and my sense is that both sides are intellectually ready to wind this down but not necessarily emotionally ready as well.  Time will tell.

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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