The main headlines in the Arab press today concern a possible IDF operation in Rafah, which horrifies the Palestinians in Gaza, and for good reason. There are now over a million displaced persons from more northern districts in the Gaza Strip in Rafah, apart from the original 300,000 residents of the district. Rafah Crossing is also the main entryway to most aid coming into Gaza.
According to Abu Ali Express: “Palestinians have not yet digested the situation and do not understand how Israel will be able to carry out a military operation in such a crowded place. The American statement on the subject yesterday (on behalf of the State Department) talking about the matter as a realistic option simply horrifies them. There is great fear of a high number of deaths.”
It’s called a war. Little hint to the appalled Gazans now shaking in their muddy boots: “If you don’t want to live in fear and suffering, don’t murder and kidnap your neighbors who have a better army.”
They are absolutely right to be afraid. According to the recent war update from Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant (thank you, Abu Ali Express English):
“18 Hamas battalions out of 24 have been disbanded and do not function as military frameworks.
“3 out of 4 Hamas battalions in Khan Yunis were disbanded. The additional battalion will be disbanded soon.
“Half of the Hamas terrorists were killed or seriously wounded.
“We found Hamas databases that were on hundreds of computers and drives.
“We will reach the places where we have not yet fought both in the south of the Gaza Strip and in the center of it.
“Every terrorist hiding in Rafah should know his fate will be like that of his comrades: surrender or death.
“The Hamas leadership is on the run.
“Sinwar moves from hiding to hiding. He is unable to communicate.
“Yahya Sinwar will be eliminated. Hamas will be eliminated as the organization that controls Gaza.
“There are coordination difficulties between Hamas representatives in the Gaza Strip and outside.
“Sinwar is not leading the campaign. He is preoccupied with his own survival.
“The ground maneuver is one of the most complex and complicated in the history of wars.”
Echoing this last remark, and giving it credence, is the following February 4 editorial in the Wall Street Journal: “You may have missed it amid the media defeatism, but Israel is winning its war in Gaza. Hamas’s losses are mounting, and support for the Israeli war effort has endured around the world longer than Hamas expected.
“The war is far from over, but Hamas’s southern stronghold of Khan Yunis is falling. Civilians have streamed out and Hamas’s remaining forces in the city’s west are encircled. They face an Israeli advance on all sides, and Israel is now fighting below ground in force.
“Biden Administration restrictions and Israeli caution have slowed the war, but consider that the 2016-17 battle of Mosul against ISIS took nine months. ‘Mosul,’ writes John Spencer, chief of urban warfare studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute, ‘was one battle, in one city against 3 to 5 thousand militants with limited defenses. Israel is fighting multiple battles in 7 cities against 30,000 militants with military grade underground cities built under civilian areas.’”
As I write this in my office that looks out to the sea, the sun is suddenly shining after 16 days of straight rain, which hasn’t happened since 1930. The day is almost spring-like. I took a sweater with me when I went out for a long hoped for walk in the sun, and had to take it off. It was too warm.
I think of our troops in Gaza, our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, our grandsons and granddaughters, and how the sun must be shining on them as well. I hope and pray that their work will soon be done and that they will be able to come home, bringing our Israeli hostages, and the sacred bodies of the fallen, with them. I pray that Hamas will disappear from the face of the earth, and their supporters all over the world will be rounded up and deported to Iran, Turkey, Iraq and other hell-holes where they can enjoy the hospitality of their “brothers.”
Meanwhile, in Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, medical staff are caring for Haniyeh’s grandnephew or niece, his sister’s premature grandchild, in its neonatal unit. No one is suggesting we kick the family out of the hospital and town where Haniyeh’s rockets attempted mass murder. It hasn’t even been suggested. What does that say about us? I’m not even sure.
And if you missed it, I’d like to recommend a new version of West Side Story called West is Next Side Story by Tunnel Productions, with such revised lyrics as: “I want to kill in America. I want to die in America. I want to rape in America. Kidnap some kids in America.” And: “Maria, I’ll kidnap a girl named Maria. And also her son, grandmother and father too.” And last, but no least, to the tune of Tonight, tonight: “To lie, to lie, on TikTok we all lie. You think we’re freedom fighters but we’re not.”
And the unforgettable: “I feel pretty and witty and gay,” sung by a Hamas fighter who dons a Rainbow flag and is immediately shot in the back.
Things are looking up.