This week’s letter from Israel – November 24, 2023

November 24, 2023

My dearest friends,

Another week has passed. The fighting continues to intensify. The casualties continue to rise. The tension is relentless. Our sleep is restless. The missiles continue to rain down on our cities. So much for the “humanitarian disaster” in Gaza.

Gaza may capture the headlines but Israel’s other fronts are far from quiet.

Hezbollah continues to shell Israeli towns and villages along Israel’s northern border. Around 100,000 Israelis from 28 separate communities have been evacuated from their homes along Israel’s border with Lebanon. This is an untenable situation. How long can it continue?

The Houthis, Iran’s regional proxy in Yemen, seized a cargo ship owned by an international consortium including an Israeli businessman. This act of piracy constitutes a gross violation of International Law. Let’s see what the international community does about it. Don’t hold your breath.

On the family front, we were able to speak briefly with Omer. He sounds in good spirits. We had so much to say to him but found ourselves at a loss for words. Just hearing his voice was music to our ears. I can’t wait to hug him and tell him how much we love him and how proud we are of him and our other serving grandchildren.

Following achievement of Israel’s military objectives and the release of all the hostages, the Israeli government will certainly set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the military, intelligence and civilian failures connected to the October 7 massacre. Given the indescribable atrocities perpetrated by Hamas, I’m reluctant to use the term, “many heads will roll”. This commission of inquiry is essential to ensure the necessary lessons are learnt by the authorities and that those responsible for gross negligence be removed from their positions of leadership.

It seems to me the international community should follow suit and set up similar commissions of inquiry to ensure it doesn’t repeat the mistakes it has made over the years and that the incompetent officials representing their organizations, be removed from their positions.

Both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency are organizations desperately in need of independent commissions of inquiry.

Established in 1863, the ICRC operates in battle zones around the world. Its stated aim is to help people affected by conflict and armed violence and to promote laws that protect victims of war. The ICRC is an independent and neutral organization. Its mandate stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

During 2022, ICRC officials made 555 visits to Palestinian detainees and enabled regular family visits to more than 5,000 detainees held in Israeli detention facilities. Of course, none of this could have occurred without the full cooperation of the Israel Prison Services and the Israel Defense Forces.

Hamas currently holds the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014 and refuses to repatriate them for burial in Israel. In addition, Hamas has, for the past nine years, held two Israeli civilians – one of them, a former inmate at an Israeli mental hospital. Needless to say, the ICRC has done nothing to secure their release. No representative of the ICRC has ever visited them.

Since October 7, Hamas has been holding 236 Israeli hostages including octogenarians, women, children, toddlers and even pre-toddlers. Once again, the ICRC has done nothing to secure their release, let alone visit them. In fact, the ICRC hasn’t even provided the Israeli government with a list of the hostages and their state of health as required under the Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC has failed dismally. Yet the ICRC has been awarded three Nobel Prizes for its humanitarian work.

The annual budget of the ICRC is US$2.7 billion. 82% of this amount is provided by “governments”, otherwise known as innocent taxpayers. Yes folks. You and I are paying for these discriminatory practices, not to mention the gross incompetence.

The United Nations coordinates regular funding to Gaza under the guise of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA’s aim is to provide essential services including health, education and social services.

UNRWA’s annual budget is US$1.6 billion. It is funded by voluntary contributions, mostly from “government donors”. UNRWA is also supported by the EU, regional governments and other UN Agencies.

The UN administration and the contributing countries are aware their funds are being diverted to building sophisticated military and indoctrination infrastructures to attack Israel.

They know Hamas uses UNRWA installations to launch missiles targeted at Israel.

They know their hospitals and schools serve as control centers and safe-havens for Hamas terror operatives.

They know UNRWA schools are Jihadi recruitment centers.

There’s plenty of evidence to support these charges but yet the UN and the contributing countries continue coughing up. UNRWA is not the solution. UNRWA is the problem.

Indeed, UNRWA is in desperate need of a judicial commission of inquiry.

Sadly, the media continues to fail us. They don’t ask the questions that need to be asked. Not only do they have a serious problem but so do we when we rely on their credibility to provide us with reliable reporting of what’s really happening on the ground. If journalism has ethics and professional standards, they are not in evidence.

After 49 days, 236 hostages remain in captivity. A deal for the release of 50 women and children in return for the release of 150 terrorists and a four-day cessation of hostilities, is currently in the works. Let’s hope the deal is consummated and that all the hostages will be released soon. Once again, I appeal to you to spare a thought for the hostages and to pray for their safety.

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. 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.