More bodies of murdered Israelis discovered in Gaza raid
Close to 3,500 wounded, more than 1,300 murdered • IDF: 120 families of missing Israelis have been contactedBy JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Netanyahu: We will destroy Hamas, this is only the beginning
Israel will destroy Hamas, no matter how long it takes, and will finish the war stronger, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an unusual address on Friday night.
"This is just the beginning," he said. "Our enemies have only begun paying the price and I will not say more. This is just the beginning."
Lapid: Netanyahu sent Israel into a frenzy for nothing
Opposition head Yair Lapid attacked Netanyahu for not giving any new information while inducing anxiety among Israelis for an unusual address during Shabbat.
"How can Israel's prime minister send an entire nation into a frenzy for an unusual Friday night statement only to then say nothing on the hostages, the North, the evacuations," Lapid charged.
"A prime minister should not make these statements unless he has new information."
לא ייתכן שראש ממשלת ישראל יכניס מדינה שלמה לסחרור חרדה בהמתנה להצהרתו בשישי בלילה בזמן של חירום ואז לא יגיד דבר חדש לא על משפחות החטופים, לא על חזית הצפון, לא על המפונים. הצהרות כאלה לא עושה ראש ממשלה אלא אם כן יש לו מידע חדש להביא לעמו ולארצו.— יאיר לפיד - Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) October 13, 2023
During his short address, Netanyahu also stressed that Israel, through talks with US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin, is "ensuring the continuation of fighting" with American supply on its way to Israel.Go to the full article >>
How relatives of Israel’s missing are making sure their loved ones aren’t forgotten
This weekend, Ruby Chen was looking forward to celebrating his son Alon’s bar mitzvah together with the boy’s older brother, Itay, who was due to come home from his military service.
But on Friday, instead of being focused solely on preparations for a family milestone, Chen joined a video call with President Joe Biden to talk about Itay, 19, who was stationed on the Gaza border and has been missing since Hamas’ invasion of Israel on Oct. 7.
Chen, an Israeli-American venture capitalist, joined relatives of 13 other Americans who have been missing since the invasion, in which Hamas terrorists killed 1,300 Israelis, wounded thousands and took more than 100 captive. Hundreds, in total, are missing.
Now, the family members of those missing Israelis have formed their own battalion of sorts, organizing via group text and, within days, getting the attention of the world and the president of the United States — though they haven’t yet spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Starting in 2006, the activism of a single set of parents on behalf of their captured son — Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit — sparked a global movement. Today, there are hundreds of families following in their footsteps and inspiring action. A brigade of volunteers is papering walls across the globe with pictures of the missing. Their names and photos have spread across social media. And — with the help of press conferences and crisis PR reps — their relatives want to make sure their names are not forgotten as Israel prepares to ramp up its war against Hamas in Gaza.
“All of the families felt like they needed to unload,” Chen told Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, regarding the meeting with Biden, which lasted for an hour and a half. Chen said Biden referenced his own loss of family members and vowed to seek all the hostages.
Where's the Prime Minister?
Chen added, in comments translated from Hebrew, “If only the missing and captive got the same attention from the Israeli government. Where’s the prime minister of Israel? Why isn’t he talking to us?”
That effort is happening in parallel with an initiative led by the US-based National Council of Jewish Women, which has enlisted an array of prominent women activists and celebrities — including Deborah Messing, Gal Gadot, Helen Mirren, Amy Schumer and more — to call in a letter for the release of all women and children held by Hamas, and for the provision of medical care to the hostages.
The group’s CEO, Sheila Katz, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she personally knows six people believed to be taken hostage — a family of five and Vivian Silver, a prominent peace activist who moved to Israel from Canada.
“Innocent individuals ought not be used as bargaining chips for any cause or purpose,” reads the group’s letter, which garnered 5,000 signatures in its first 12 hours online. “The infants, children, mothers and elderly taken from their homes must be safely returned to their loved ones.
The coalition of Israeli families have succeeded in getting the attention of the government, holding a meeting on Friday with Gal Hirsch, an Israeli general whom Netanyahu has put in charge of the hostage issue. But after the meeting, Mary Loubton, the sister of Tamar Goldenberg, who is missing, made clear that the families are still searching for answers.
“Have they been abducted, are they dead?” she said in a statement. “What happens to all the bodies that have yet to have been identified? Why don’t they get assistance from abroad for quick DNA identification? Why do we need to be in the dark with all this difficulty?”
The coalition has three demands: the immediate release of all hostages, the opening of a humanitarian corridor to provide them with medical care, and the intervention of world leaders.
The effort to organize families of the missing began soon after the invasion started. Haim Rubinstein, a communications professional, saw news of the incursion and realized that the government, overwhelmed with repelling a surprise attack that caught it off guard, would not immediately respond to families looking for their loved ones.
“I understood that the state was not going to do anything,” said Rubinstein, who does not have a relative missing but has thrown himself into the effort. “It was in a state of shock on all fronts.”
That evening, he saw a TV interview with Moshe Or, whose brother Avinatan and Avinatan’s girlfriend, Noa Argamani, were captured by Hamas at a rave where the terrorists massacred 260 people. A clip of the couple being kidnapped has circulated widely online.
Rubinstein called Or and the two met the following morning. “I told Moshe, ‘Let’s pick up the baton,’ and we started work immediately.”
They began by starting a WhatApp text messaging group with family members of the missing. By that night, relatives of 70 missing Israelis were in the group. By Thursday the number had grown to 341, though it keeps changing. Every time the number drops, said Rubinstein, “It’s a bad sign. It means they’re dead.” Those family members then get moved to another WhatsApp group, for the bereaved.
“I haven’t cried for 20 years,” Rubinstein said. “I didn’t cry at my dad’s funeral. I always thought I didn’t know how to cry. This week I haven’t stopped crying.”
Before long Rubinstein’s effort joined forces with two other initiatives to organize families of missing Israelis. One was led by Dudi Zalamanovitch, whose daughter survived the rave massacre but whose wife’s nephew is missing, and the other by Ronen Tzur, a former Labor party lawmaker who is now a communications professional. Tzur doesn’t have any relatives among the missing; an employee of his was searching for two cousins whose bodies were found Friday, Rubinstein said.
Now they’re united as the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, for which Rubinstein is the spokesperson and Tzur the director. Zalmanovitch donated office space to the group. The effort launched a fundraising drive on Thursday night that, in its first day, raised $500,000. It organized the meeting with Hirsch, the government official, which drew 500 relatives of missing Israelis.
And it has recruited hundreds of volunteers — from psychologists to social media professionals and alumni of the IDF spokesperson’s office who are gathering the stories of the hostages and missing and spreading them, and their photos, around the world.
That effort has reached the United States, where volunteers nationwide have been seen posting photos of the hostages, with their names, on walls and billboards across the country. Their photos — including those of small children and octogenarians, have also spread widely online along with a hashtag: #BringThemHomeNow.
The group has also grown to include families of US citizens and other foreign nationals who are missing or have been taken hostage, some of whom had been organizing independently until being invited into the broader effort.
“It’s chaos, but good chaos,” Ruby Chen said of the Tel Aviv office. “They have good people. Everybody has good intentions and is coming together. I think that’s part of the DNA of the Jewish people, especially of the Israeli people. At times like this you put aside all of the political differences to come together in unity.”
The forum is also leveraging the expertise of Israelis who have helped with hostages previously captured by Hamas. It has enlisted David Meidan, a former Mossad officer who managed the negotiations over the release of Shalit. Friday’s meeting included Simcha Goldin, father of Hadar Goldin, a fallen soldier whose body has been held by Hamas for nearly a decade.
“It’s unfortunate that the families needed to do this out of frustration with official channels,” Chen said. “I’m a big believer that we’ve suddenly become family.”Go to the full article >>
IDF nabs two senior Hamas operatives in Nablus - report
The IDF has arrested two senior Hamas officials, Israeli media reported.
Sheikh Adnan Asfour and Ahmed Awad were nabbed in Nablus, according to the reports.Go to the full article >>
IDF General urges detainment of 450 Hamas operatives in Germany
As Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip for “localized raids” to root out Hamas terrorists on Thursday, Germany’s federal intelligence listed an estimated 450 active Hamas operatives in the central European country.
The Jerusalem Post reached out to Brigadier General (ret.) Amir Avivi, Founder and CEO of IDSF (Israel's Defense and Security Forum, for a comment.
Avivi said Germany should “arrest these people” and “take action against the extremist entity.”
He said “Hamas is the Islamic State. It is a very dangerous ideology. What Israel is experiencing, Europe will experience if they don’t take action.” Hamas terrorists penetrated Israel’s security barrier last Saturday and murdered over 1,300 people.
Avivi urged Germany to crack down on the permissive environment for Hamas in the Federal Republic, stating “The sooner, the better.” He stressed the German authorities “must be preemptive.”
The General noted “The only difference between Nazis and Hamas is the level of capabilities. Germany must think of Hamas as an entity that wants to eliminate Israel.” He mentioned that Hamas butchered babies and committed atrocities against Jews on a vast scale not seen since the Hitler movement.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Jewish human rights organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post that “German intelligence has done its job now authorities must do theirs—detain the Hamas operatives now.”
Germany tolerated Hamas activists
Germany has long tolerated Hamas activists, as well as operatives from the Lebanese terrorist movement Hezbollah. According to the most recent federal intelligence report, a total of 1,250 Hezbollah supporters and members are active within its territory.
Germany’s government has outlawed the activities of both Islamist terrorist movements but has failed to enforce its anti-terror laws against Hamas and Hezbollah operatives and at times their financing of terror, say critics.
In 2018, the Post reported that a bank in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia sent $43,720 to the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The German authorities refused to disclose the name of the bank and whether it was fined. German banks continue to send money transfers to Iranian businesses connected to Iran’s regime, the key strategic partner of Hamas during the massacre of Jews.
Wim Kortenoeven, a leading Israeli expert on Hamas, told the Post that “There is a reluctance for Germany and the Dutch to act on their own laws” against Islamist terrorists and organizations. Kortenoeven, who was prescient in his writings about Hamas, said that he wrote in his book in 2007 that “Hamas will be genocidal against the Jewish state.” He continued “They will never morph into something else.” He cited the Hamas Covenant that calls for the annihilation of Jews across the globe.
Kortenoeven, who made aliyah from the Netherlands, said that “the Germans are pacifying” Hamas. He served in the Dutch parliament as an MP, with a focus on national security and foreign affairs.
“You can compare Germany and the Dutch here. They are cowards when you look at the current security policies. There is a reluctance to take on organizations that are a threat to national security,” said Kortenoeven.
Post queries were sent to Björn Bowinkelmann, a spokesman for the German interior ministry, as well as the German ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert. Israel’s government rebuked Seibert earlier this year for participating in a controversial alternative memorial day that honored Palestinian terrorists who were killed, as well as Jewish victims of terrorism.
Avivi criticized Felix Klein, the German federal commissioner tasked with fighting antisemitism, for omitting Palestinian and Iranian antisemitism in Germany's national strategy report to combat antisemitism. Klein declined to comment.
Avivi also urged the German state of Baden-Württemberg to fire the controversial German civil servant Michael Blume for denigrating the IDF and praising an allegedly pro-Hamas activist, Jürgen Todenhöfer. Blume’s job is to fight antisemitism but was accused by Natan Sharansky of stoking an antisemitic conspiracy theory against the Jewish people and Israel.
Israel’s government accused Todenhöfer of participating in a Hamas-stoked “March of Return” 2019 demonstration in the Gaza Strip, with the aim of crossing into Israel, a harbinger of the massacre of 2023, according to experts. Israel’s government said in 2019 “Instead of reporting about the March of Return”, he participated in it.” Todenhöfer registered as a journalist and then held a sign stating:" Dear Israelis, please treat Palestinians the way you want to be treated.”
In 2012, Blume praised a book by Todenhöfer about Islam, who is known for his Islamist sympathies, on the obscure website Spektrum.de SciLogs. On the same website, in 2022, Blume called the father of the IDF, Orde Wingate, a “war criminal.” Blume’s wife, Zehra, has faced criticism from the German Jewish activist Malca Goldstein-Wolf, for distributing a Todenhöfer article. Goldstein-Wolf wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Zerha cannot be considered a “friend of the Jews” due to her promotion of Todenhöfer. A German Jewish weekly paper also slammed Todenhöfer for repeatedly belittling the Holocaust.
Blume declined to answer Post press queries.Go to the full article >>
At UN, Palestinians call for halt to Israeli offensive, world powers mull options
The Palestinian United Nations envoy appealed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday to do more to stop a "crime against humanity" by Israel, which has warned nearly half of the population of the Gaza Strip to relocate as it plans an assault.
"He has to do more. Whatever was done is not sufficient. We need all of us to do more to stop this crime against humanity," Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters before a meeting of Arab Group ambassadors at the United Nations.
Countries urged Israel on Friday to hold off attacking northern Gaza, where more than a million civilians largely defied Israel's order to evacuate before it goes after Hamas militants who slaughtered Israeli civilians last weekend.
Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said on Friday that Israel's warning to residents in northern Gaza was "to temporarily move south ... to mitigate civilian harm." He was speaking at an event Israel hosted at the UN with families of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas and taken to Gaza in the attack.
Guterres briefed the 15-member UN Security Council behind closed doors on Friday.
"The situation in Gaza has reached a dangerous new low," he told reporters on his way to the briefing, adding that he was in constant contact with the leaders across the region to try and "prevent further dangerous escalation in the West Bank or elsewhere in the region, especially in southern Lebanon."
Guterres reminded the parties: "Even wars have rules ... Civilians must be protected and also never used as shields."
During the meeting, Russia proposed a draft resolution for the Security Council that calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and condemns violence against civilians and all acts of terrorism, according to a draft text seen by Reuters.
"Russia cannot accept the complete inaction and lack of any reaction on the part of the UNSC," Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the meeting, adding that Russia was also ready to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians.
It was not immediately clear when or if Russia would put the draft resolution to a vote. The United States has traditionally shielded its ally Israel from any Security Council action. It holds a veto along with Britain, France, China or Russia.
Brazil proposed its own draft resolution late on Friday, seen by Reuters, which is essentially a more detailed version of Russia's text. It specifically condemns "the terrorist attacks by Hamas" and "urges the Israeli authorities to immediately rescind its order" for civilians to evacuate northern Gaza.
When asked about Russia's draft, British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said: "For something that is as important as this, we've already seen how much human life has been destroyed, we need time for consultation, serious consultation."
China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said the council should "have a strong voice on this really alarming situation and also take meaningful action."
The United Nations said Israel's military informed it late on Thursday that 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza should move to the enclave's south within 24 hours, in what Palestinians fear could be a precursor to a ground offensive.
"Moving more than one million people across a densely populated war zone to a place with no food, water, or accommodation, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous - and in some cases, simply not possible," Guterres said.
Erdan criticized the UN response, saying Israel should be praised for its advance warning to Gaza residents.
He said the United Nations and the Security Council were "facing one of their most pivotal moments," adding: "Will they remain true to their founding values? Or will they empower genocidal terrorists? This shouldn't be a question."
Hamas carried out their deadliest attack in Israel's history on Saturday, killing more than 1,300 people and taking scores of hostages to Gaza. Israel has responded with the most intensive air strikes of its 75-year conflict with the Palestinians. Gaza authorities said 1,799 people have been killed.
"All hostages in Gaza must be released immediately. It is imperative that all parties - and those with influence over them - do everything possible to achieve these steps," Guterres said.
The Arab Group ambassadors called for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid access to Gaza and a stop to any mass displacement of Palestinians. Mansour said there was no safe place in Gaza.
"We need to stop this war immediately. We need to send convoys of food and medicine to help the people there and we need to stop this ethnic cleansing from taking place," he said.Go to the full article >>
US lawmakers put pressure on US airlines to resume flights to Israel
More than 30 US lawmakers on Friday wrote the three airline CEOs urging them to resume flights to Tel Aviv "as quickly as possible."
The letter called on the carriers "to prioritize resuming flight operations" to Tel Aviv, and said the Congress members "stand ready to assist you in any way necessary to get the job done."
American declined to comment, while United did not immediately comment.
Delta, which has suspended flights through Oct. 31, said it was continuously monitoring the rapidly evolving security environment.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian on Thursday said the airline did not "have any plans to be flying into Israel. It's considered unsafe for a US carrier to operate in that airspace currently."
First State Department flight out of Israel lands
The first US State Department-organized charter flight taking Americans out of Israel during the conflict in Gaza landed in Athens, the Biden administration confirmed on Friday, as US airlines ramped up connecting flights to help people get home.
White House spokesman John Kirby said the government is exploring departure options by sea as well to help Americans in Israel. "We're just trying to add to the options," Kirby told reporters, adding that the flights will continue.
Reuters reported the first flight on a US-based charter company from flight records, and was first to confirm it had landed.
Additional charter flights are scheduled between Athens and Tel Aviv through at least Oct. 19, a separate source said.
More than 400 Americans were signed up for the first flight but that figure includes an assumption that some would not turn up for it, a different source said.
On Friday, United Airlines said it would add a fifth roundtrip flight between Newark, New Jersey, and Athens through Oct. 19, to help Americans trying to return home from Israel, and Delta Air Lines DAL.N said it would add three flights from Athens to New York starting on Monday.
American Airlines on Friday said it would fly larger planes from Athens to New York beginning Saturday to accommodate more Americans looking for a way home.
United, American, and Delta all temporarily halted direct flights to Israel.
The State Department said this week it "will take some period of time to schedule everyone seeking to depart."
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma told earlier airlines this week that the US government had received roughly 17,000 inquiries about travel assistance leaving Israel.Go to the full article >>
Biden says 'workin' like hell' to find hostages held by Hamas
US President Joe Biden said his administration was "workin' like hell" to find American hostages held by Hamas amid the conflict with Israel, according to an excerpt of a 60 Minutes interview released on Friday.
"I'm not gonna go into the detail of that, but there's -- we're workin' like hell on it," Biden was quoted as saying.Go to the full article >>
23andMe sued after Ashkenazi Jews’ user data is stolen and sold in targeted attack
The genetic testing company 23andMe is facing a class action lawsuit over its security practices after hackers stole and published data about 1 million people with Jewish ancestry.
The data breach was revealed on Friday after hackers published a database titled “ashkenazi DNA Data of Celebrities” on dark web forums. Most of the people on the list are not famous, and the database includes information such as display names, sex, birth year, and some details about users’ genetic ancestry results.
The hacker from the initial leak offered to sell data profiles in bulk for $1 to $10 per account. But as many as 7 million accounts may be in the sale — half the users of 23andMe. It is unclear whether whoever compiled the Ashkenazi list — which actually has 999,999 entries — is the same as the group that put it up for sale, NBC News reported.
Investigating the incident
23andMe is treating the leak as authentic and investigating the incident. It is also requiring its users to change their passwords.
“We are taking this issue seriously and will continue our investigation to confirm these preliminary results,” the company said in a statement.
It is also unclear why the data was stolen, and whether it is solely focused on Ashkenazi Jews. (The hacker also downloaded a separate file with data on more than 300,000 users with Chinese ancestry.)
“When data is shared relating to ethnic, national, political or other groups, sometimes it’s because those groups have been specifically targeted, but sometimes it’s because the person sharing the data thinks it’ll make reputation-boosting headlines,” Brett Callow, a threat analyst at security firm Emsisoft, told Wired.
23andMe confirmed last week that its data had been compromised but said that its systems were not breached. Instead, the company believes the hackers were able to get access to recycled passwords that had already been hacked and leaked on other websites and then used that information to scrape data through 23andMe, which gives its users access to each others’ genetic information to find relatives through a popular feature called “DNA Relatives.”
“This incident really highlights the risks associated with DNA databases,” Callow said. “The fact that accounts had reportedly opted into the ‘DNA Relatives’ feature is particularly concerning as it could potentially result in extremely sensitive information becoming public.”Go to the full article >>
Explosion heard in Haifa, no sirens heard
An explosion was heard in the Haifa Krayot area, however, no sirens were reported and no alert was released by the IDF.
IDF spokesperson: "Following the reports of the echoes of explosions over Haifa, air defense fighters intercepted two unidentified targets over the city of Haifa, no alert was activated according to policy."Go to the full article >>
Saudi Arabia reportedly suspends peace talks with Israel in the wake of war with Hamas
Saudi Arabia is reportedly pausing normalization talks with Israel and the United States, a major diplomatic blow in the wake of Hamas’ invasion of Israel on Sautrday.
Bloomberg and Reuters on Friday quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Saudis were not ending the talks, but instead were freezing them until the violence abated. Israel has declared war in the wake of Hamas’ invasion, which killed and wounded thousands of civilians, and is widely expected to begin a ground invasion of Gaza soon.
Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also spoke with Iran’s president this week, signaling a retreat from the Biden administration’s efforts to isolate Iran, which backs Hamas.
Hamas invaded Israel from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 1,300 people, many of them civilians, wounding thousands and abducting more than a hundred. Israel’s war has the stated ambition of “ending Hamas.”
Hezbollah, the militant group based in Lebanon that is a proxy for Iran, praised Hamas’ attack and said it should be seen as a message to Arab countries about the dangers of sidestepping the Palestinian cause while establishing ties with Israel. Four countries in the region have established relations with Israel in the last three years.
A letdown for the US
The Biden administration was deeply invested in the Saudi Arabia-Israel talks, seeing an agreement between the countries as a breakthrough for Israel’s regional acceptance, a blow to Iran’s regional ambitions and a diplomatic coup heading into a presidential election year. Part of the proposal was a US-Saudi defense pact, something the Saudis have longed for for years.
Bin Salman’s lengthy chat with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi was aimed at showing that “the kingdom is exerting maximum effort to engage with all international and regional parties to halt the ongoing escalation,” Reuters quoted a Saudi statement as saying. Taking the call from Raisi signals Saudi recognition of a legitimate Iranian stake in the Israel-Hamas war, which Israel vehemently rejects.
John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, would not confirm the talks’ suspension in a phone call he had with members of the press, but he said the United States could do little to move peace forward without the committed involvement of the parties.
“We have every intention of staying at the task of trying to pursue an Israel that is more integrated into the region, a more cooperative region, and we still believe in the promise of normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and we have no intention of not continuing to pursue that,” Kirby said.
“But obviously, these are sovereign nations, they get to decide for themselves at what pace they’re willing to move, under what conditions and certainly the degree to which they want to continue that effort,” he added. “If they continue the effort, if that’s where they, too, want to go, they will find no better friend than the United States in pursuit of that.”Go to the full article >>
Israel, Hamas at war: What you need to know
- Hamas launched a barrage of rockets on Saturday morning, with thousands of terrorists infiltrating from the Gaza border
- Over 1,300 Israelis and foreign nationals were murdered as of Friday night, and more than 3,484 were wounded according to the Health Ministry
- Israel reportedly preparing for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip
- Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claim to hold over 130 Israeli hostages in Gaza