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This week’s letter from Israel – December 22, 2023

December 22, 2023

My dearest friends,

This past week has been a tough one for Israelis.

The death toll amongst our soldiers continues to rise. In a particularly tragic event, three Israeli hostages were accidentally killed by soldiers who mistook them for terrorists. It’s easy to blame the soldiers for this terrible error of judgement, but one has to consider the context. These soldiers have been in constant danger for 10 weeks. They’ve lost friends to boobytraps and sniper fire. They’ve barely had time to rest.

We spent last Shabbat with family in Jerusalem. We were forced to take refuge in an air-raid shelter following the sounding of sirens in anticipation of a missile attack in the middle of the Friday evening service. We need to ask ourselves how Hamas still has the military capacity to launch missile attacks with a range of more than 75 kilometers.

This past week, our news has been dominated by the discovery of a strategic four-kilometer-long tunnel 50 meters below ground level. This tunnel is wide enough to enable motor transport of arms and ammunition. It also provides vehicle access to underground military operations and communications centers, arms production facilities and prisoner and hostage detention and interrogation areas.

According to military intelligence, there are another two such strategic tunnels, both of which will need to be destroyed in a way precluding their repair. These strategic tunnels constitute an additional component of the network of tactical tunnels that crisscross the Gaza Strip. The tunnel network in Gaza is reportedly more than 500 kilometers long. These reinforced concrete tunnels are equipped with electricity and lights. Air conditioning is essential to maximize use of the tunnel network. Hence the Hamas insistence that “humanitarian aid” for Gaza includes power.

Who masterminded the tunnel project? Who paid for it? How much did it cost? Which banks are involved in the transfer of funds? Who resourced the tunnel digging equipment? How many people are employed in the excavation and construction process?

I’m not an investigative journalist. I don’t have the answers. I can only make assumptions, ask relevant questions and ponder the answers.

The sophisticated Hamas military infrastructure costs billions of dollars. The finance, I assume, comes from Iran, Qatar and Turkey. It’s also safe to assume that UN agencies served as a conduit for the “aid money” being poured into Gaza and diverted to sustain the Hamas military machine.

Terror tunnels of this magnitude can only be masterminded, engineered and financed by states. This isn’t the work of a group of long-haired, brainwashed, ideological radicals working out of Dad’s garage.

How can an operation of this scope take place without the knowledge of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency? Construction of these tunnels requires huge teams of skilled engineers and laborers. The tunnels weren’t dug with the spades used by kids to build sandcastles on the beach.

What happened to the worldwide banking legislation introduced to circumvent the financing of terror and stop money laundering? It seems this legislation is nothing more than lip-service to an ideal. You and I are required to pay enormous bank charges on international financial transactions to finance this bureaucracy. But how do states get away with it? I guess they’re above the law.

It’s as if the legislation was constructed with deliberate loopholes to enable states to finance terror. The legislation reminds me of a custom-made vehicle intended to distance the perpetrator from the scene of his crime.

Why haven’t the banks in violation of the legislation been investigated or had their international banking licenses revoked? There’s no doubt that fraud and crimes have been committed. Where’s the law enforcement? Conspicuously, absent without leave.

According to the New York Post, the top three Hamas leaders have amassed a staggering cumulative fortune of $11 billion. Ismail Haniyeh, Moussa Abu Marzuk and Khaled Mashal, in their stylish Armani suits, maintain luxury lifestyles working out in the gyms of Qatar’s best hotels. They’re on the ultimate gravy train. What would become of them if the war in Gaza ended? They won’t let it happen.

At this time, 76 days after the October 7 massacre, Hamas continues to hold 129 hostages in the most appalling conditions. We don’t know who’s alive and who’s no longer with us. The Red Cross still hasn’t visited them. No Red Cross officials have resigned in protest. The international community insists on increasing the volumes of humanitarian aid without mentioning the welfare of the hostages.

Please give the hostages a thought and include them in your prayers.

Golda Meir once said, “if the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel”.

Israel must make peace with herself. We can depend only on ourselves. We can’t make peace with our neighbors. They aren’t worthy of our trust. They aren’t interested in peace. Their actions prove it. Why can’t the international community understand that? To me, it’s all so obvious.

My condolences to those mourning their nearest and dearest. My wishes to the injured for a complete and speedy recovery. May God protect our brave soldiers.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and better times ahead.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Harris Zvi Green.

About the Author
Harris Zvi Green was born in Cape Town, South Africa. Aged 77, he made Aliyah 53 years ago. An accountant by profession, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for a number of Israel based hi-tech companies. He is married to Phyllis. They have 3 married children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Harris Zvi Green is a founder member of Truth be Told, an organization engaged in public diplomacy on behalf of Israel.