Sherwin Pomerantz

The 251st Day of War in Israel

The hostage release proposal along with parameters of a ceasefire offered to Hamas has been rejected by them after their sitting on the text for two weeks. The changes that Hamas has requested to a ceasefire proposal by the United States are “not significant” and include the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, a senior leader in the group told Reuters on Thursday. But we and the US believe otherwise.

US Secretary of State Blinken said on Wednesday that Hamas had proposed numerous changes, some unworkable, to the US-backed proposal, but that mediators were determined to close the gaps. The US has said Israel has accepted its proposal, but Israel has not publicly stated that. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will not commit to ending its campaign before Hamas is eliminated.

The Israeli document had excluded 100 prisoners with long sentences and restricted releases to only prisoners with sentences of less than 15 years remaining, the Hanas official said. “There are no significant amendments that, according to Hamas leadership, warrant objection,” said the Hamas leader. The group’s demands also include the reconstruction of Gaza; the lifting of the blockade, including opening border crossings; allowing the movement of people; and transporting goods without restrictions,” the senior Hamas leader said. In addition, Hamas wants a US guarantee related to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Negotiators from the US, Egypt and Qatar have tried for months to mediate a ceasefire in the conflict. Major powers are intensifying efforts to defuse the conflict in part to prevent it from spiraling into a wider Middle East war, with a dangerous flashpoint being the escalating hostilities along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Sirens warning of suspected drone infiltrations sounded today across northern Israel. The alarms were activated in Safed, Katzrin, Majdal Shams, and many other communities in the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights. Firefighters and police have received reports of numerous rocket impacts in northern Israel, following a barrage fired from Lebanon.

Rockets that hit the Katzrin area sparked several fires, footage purportedly from the area shows. Incoming rocket sirens sounded in several communities in the Upper Galilee, close to the northern city of Safed. Footage shows the Iron Dome air defense system active over the area, amid what appears to be a major barrage from Lebanon.

In the good news department, despite Israel’s war with Hamas, Tel Aviv rose to fourth place in a prestigious report ranking the world’s top startup ecosystems unveiled at London Tech Week on Monday. The 2024 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, an annual analysis conducted by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network evaluated 4.5 million companies in more than 300 entrepreneurial ecosystems worldwide. Tel Aviv and Los Angeles both rose one spot up from last year, ranking behind Silicon Valley, New York City and London, tied for fourth place with Los Angeles.

According to the report, Tel Aviv’s tech startup ecosystem has created substantial value from exits and funding, positioning it as the leading ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa region. From July 2021 to December 2023, Tel Aviv’s ecosystem generated an impressive $253 billion, marking a 47% compound annual growth rate compared to the previous period. The city ranks among the top ecosystems globally for early-stage funding and investor activity.

251 days into the war people here wonder how we would describe “victory” other than the release of the remaining hostages, those who are alive and the bodies of the many who are presumed dead (and who died from lack of proper care by Hamas). It is probably not possible to fully eradicate Hamas which is as much an idea as it is a governing group. Where that leaves us is not clear although everyone hopes to an early end of the current hostilities. May it be so.

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.