Sherwin Pomerantz

The 187th Day of War in Israel

The details of the current proposal in the hands of Hamas and approved by Israel have now been made clear and have been debated by Israel’s cabinet. The proposal calls for a 42-day cessation of fighting along with the release of 900 Palestinian prisoners presently held by Israel, 100 of whom are serving life sentences for killing Israelis. For this Hamas will release 40 of the hostages, primarily women, children, older men and those with debilitating medical conditions. Israel is pushing to transfer the released Palestinians to another country rather than sending them to Judaea and Samaria. The ball is now in Hamas’s court.

On the humanitarian aid front, 468 trucks laden with aid for the residents of Gaza were inspected and released into the enclave on Tuesday, the most in any one day.  Sadly, Reuters has shown videos of how many of those trucks were immediately commandeered by Hamas’s troops and where, presumably, the aid has been directed to Hamas operatives rather than the citizens who desperately need these supplies.  Not sure why the world is not “outraged” over that.

Israel’s Defense Ministry has purchased 40,000 tents to better enable the evacuation and prepare for an invasion of Rafah in the relatively near future. Although the ministry acknowledged to the Jerusalem Post that 40,000 tents would not be enough for all 1.4 million Palestinian civilians currently in Rafah, it is still considered a significant step forward. There was no official announcement. The leak of the purchase could also be a nod to the US, being transparent about the process to prepare for the evacuation in advance after months about which Washington complained that Israel’s preparations for evacuating civilians were both too secretive, and insufficient. As for the quantity, the IDF is hopeful that significant numbers of civilians will self-evacuate and return to Khan Yunis following Sunday’s IDF withdrawal from that area, which might also decrease the number of tents needed.

One of Iran’s top naval commanders spoke with the pro-Iranian al-Mayadeen network in a wide-ranging interview, where he sketched out how Iran wants to become a naval and regional military power, and how it plans to confront Israel on various fronts. Iran’s pro-government Fars News characterized the new policy as calling for a “coalition of Muslim armies against the Zionist regime.”

Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri is the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy. Tangsiri’s main message is that Iran will not remain quiet after an air strike in Damascus killed a top IRGC commander last week; it will respond. Iran has been saying this for a week now. He added that Iran became an exporter of weapons, including missiles, boats, and radars, and that the US embargo on Iran has not succeeded, Iran is growing more powerful in its manufacturing power.

Iran is particularly paying attention to how the IDF is performing. Tangsiri noted that Israel claims to have a strong army with advanced weapons, “but to this day, the Zionists have not been victorious, neither in the military nor political fields… nor in the social sphere.”

According to today’s New York Times, Iran is operating a clandestine smuggling route across the Middle East, employing intelligence operatives, militants and criminal gangs, to deliver weapons to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to officials from the United States, Israel and Iran. The goal, as described by three Iranian officials, is to foment unrest against Israel by flooding the enclave with as many weapons as it can.

Many weapons smuggled to the West Bank largely travel along two paths from Iran through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, the officials said. As the arms cross borders, the officials added, they change hands among a multinational cast that can include members of organized criminal gangs, extremist militants, soldiers and intelligence operatives. A key group in the operation, the Iranian officials and analysts said, are Bedouin smugglers who carry the weapons across the border from Jordan into Israel.

Today’s New York Times carries an op ed by columnist Bret Stephens urging the removal of Prime Minister Netanyahu. While many of us would like to see the government fall after the war and then have the population elect new leadership, the more pressure for this that is applied from the outside the stronger Netanyahu seems to become. Stephens, who is also a former editor of the Jerusalem Post and lived here for some time, should have learned from his American experience how popularity seems to be inversely proportional to political attacks regardless of how justified they may be. The best thing for Israel would be for Biden, Stephens, Tom Friedman, political columnists and other pundits to lay off Bibi. Calling for his removal from office only strengthens him.

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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