Palestinian women react as a body is carried out from the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
Israel bombs market in Gaza, killing at least 10
Israel bombs market in Gaza, killing at least 10
At least six people have been confirmed killed in Deir al Balah when an Israeli strike hit the home of the Abu Me’leq family on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of injured were rushed to the hospital, many of them children, covered in dust and blood following the blast. (October 22) (AP video by Mohammad Fayeq)
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The second aid convoy destined for desperate Palestinian civilians reached Gaza on Sunday, as Israel widened its attacks to include targets in Syria and the occupied West Bank and the Israeli prime minister warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group that if it launches its own war, “we will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine.”
For days, Israel has been on the verge of launching a ground offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 rampage through a series of Israeli communities. Tanks and troops have been massed at the Gaza border, waiting for the command to cross.
Israel’s military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said the country had increased airstrikes across Gaza to hit targets that would reduce the risk to troops in the next stage of the war.
Fears of a widening war grew as Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza, two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by militants.
Israel has traded fire with Hezbollah militants since the war began, and tensions are soaring in the West Bank, where Israeli forces have battled militants in refugee camps and carried out two airstrikes in recent days.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told troops in northern Israel that if Hezbollah launches a war, “it will make the mistake of its life. We will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine, and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state will be devastating.”
Hamas said it fought with Israeli forces near Khan Younis in southern Gaza and destroyed a tank and two bulldozers.
Late Sunday, Hagari announced that a soldier was killed and three others wounded by an anti-tank missile during a raid inside Gaza as part of efforts to rescue more than 200 hostages abducted in the Oct. 7 attack.
On Saturday, 20 trucks entered Gaza in the first aid shipment into the territory since Israel imposed a complete siege two weeks ago.
Israeli authorities said late Sunday they had allowed a second batch of aid into Gaza at the request of the United States. COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said the aid included water, food and medical supplies and that everything was inspected by Israel before it was brought into Gaza.
The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees confirmed the arrival of 14 trucks.
Israel has not allowed any fuel to enter Gaza.
In a sign of how precarious any movement of aid remains, the Egyptian military said Israeli shelling hit a watchtower on Egypt’s side of the border, causing light injuries. The Israeli military apologized, saying a tank had accidentally fired and hit an Egyptian post, and the incident was being investigated.
Relief workers said far more aid was needed to address the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where half the territory’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes. The U.N. humanitarian agency said Saturday’s convoy carried about 4% of an average day’s imports before the war and “a fraction of what is needed after 13 days of complete siege.”
The Israeli military said the humanitarian situation was “under control,” even as the U.N. called for 100 trucks a day to enter.
In a Sunday phone call, Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden “affirmed that there will now be continued flow of this critical assistance into Gaza,” the White House said in a statement.
Israel repeated its calls for people to leave northern Gaza, including by dropping leaflets from the air. It estimated 700,000 have already fled. But hundreds of thousands remain. That would raise the risk of mass civilian casualties in any ground offensive.
Israeli military officials say Hamas’ infrastructure and underground tunnels are concentrated in Gaza City, in the north, and that the next stage of the offensive will include unprecedented force there. Israel says it wants to crush Hamas. Officials have also spoken of carving out a buffer zone to keep Palestinians from approaching the border, though they have given no details.
Hospitals packed with patients and displaced people are running low on medical supplies and fuel for generators, forcing doctors to perform surgeries using sewing needles, resorting to vinegar as disinfectant and operating without anesthesia.
The World Health Organization says at least 130 premature babies are at “grave risk” because of a shortage of generator fuel. It said seven hospitals in northern Gaza have been forced to shut down due to damage from strikes, lack of power and supplies, or Israeli evacuation orders.
Palestinian women react as a body is carried out from the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
Shortages of critical supplies, including ventilators, are forcing doctors to ration treatment, said Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, who works in Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital. Dozens of patients continue to arrive and are treated in crowded, darkened corridors, as hospitals preserve electricity for intensive care units.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Qandeel said.
Palestinians sheltering in U.N.-run schools and tent camps are running low on food and are drinking dirty water. The lack of fuel has crippled water and sanitation systems.
Heavy airstrikes were reported across Gaza, including in the southern part of the coastal strip, where Israel has told civilians to seek refuge. At the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, south of the evacuation line, several bodies wrapped in white shrouds were lined up outside.
Khalil al-Degran, a hospital official, said more than 90 bodies had been brought in since early Sunday, as the sound of nearby bombing echoed behind him. He said 180 wounded people had arrived, mostly children, women and the elderly displaced from other areas.
Soldiers drive a militar vehicle near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip in Israel, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Airstrikes also smashed through the marketplace in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Witnesses said at least a dozen people were killed.
The Israeli military has said it is striking Hamas fighters and installations and insists it does not target civilians. Palestinian militants have fired over 7,000 rockets at Israel, according to the military, and Hamas says it targeted Tel Aviv early Sunday.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed — mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack. At least 212 people were captured and dragged back to Gaza.
Two Americans were released Friday, hours before the first shipment of humanitarian aid.
More than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. That includes the disputed toll from a hospital explosion.
Syrian state media, meanwhile, reported that Israeli airstrikes hit the international airports in the capital, Damascus, and the northern city of Aleppo, killing one person and putting the runways out of service.
Israel has carried out several strikes in Syria since the war began. Israel rarely acknowledges individual strikes, but says it acts to prevent Hezbollah and other militants from bringing in arms from Iran, which also supports Hamas.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah said six fighters were killed Saturday, and the group’s deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, warned that Israel would pay a high price if it invades Gaza. Israel struck Hezbollah in response to rocket fire, the military said.
Trucks with humanitarian aid for the ‘Gaza Strip enter from Egypt in Rafah on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
Israel also announced evacuation plans for another 14 communities near the Lebanon border.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 93 Palestinians have been killed — including eight Sunday — in clashes with Israeli troops, arrest raids and attacks by Jewish settlers since the Hamas attacks, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israeli forces have closed crossings into the territory and checkpoints between cities, measures they say are aimed at preventing attacks. Israel says it has arrested more than 700 Palestinians since Oct. 7, including 480 suspected Hamas members.
The internationally recognized Palestinian Authority administers parts of the West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security, but it is deeply unpopular and has been the target of violent Palestinian protests.
Magdy reported from Cairo and Nessman from Jerusalem. Associated Press journalists Amy Teibel in Jerusalem; Samya Kullab in Baghdad; Bassem Mroue in Beirut; Ashraf Sweilam in el-Arish, Egypt, and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.
On 7 October, hours after the surprise offensive by Hamas that left 1,400 Israelis dead, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, took to the airwaves to declare war on Hamas and issue a warning to Palestinians in Gaza: “leave now”. The question of where 2.3 million Palestinians, the vast majority of them refugees who have lived under a brutal siege and blockade for the past 16 years, should go to was left unsaid.
Israel proceeded to unleash an unprecedented aerial assault, dropping 6,000 bombs on the densely populated enclave in the first five days alone. Then came the order: a directive for the 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate to the south within 24 hours.
Maps showing evacuation corridors along which Palestinians were told to flee appeared as manifestations of colonial fantasy: two long arrows pointing southward, away from Palestine towards the Egyptian border.
Egypt, the only country other than Israel to share a border with Gaza, is being pressed by the US and other western states to open the gates and accept a flood of Palestinians fleeing the relentless assault and humanitarian crisis. In an interview on Sky News, Israel’s former ambassador to the US, Danny Ayalon, said: “The people of Gaza should evacuate and go to the vast expanses on the other side of Rafah at the Sinai border in Egypt … and Egypt will have to accept them.”
Instead of putting pressure on Israel to halt its bombing campaign, protect civilian life and allow in aid, various western governments have instead tried to broker a deal with Egypt by offering economic incentives for them to let in Palestinians, according to the Egyptian news site Mada Masr.
Egypt has said it will allow foreigners and Palestinian dual nationals through the Rafah crossing on the condition that Israel allows humanitarian aid in. Thousands of tonnes of food, fuel, water, medicine and other lifesaving aid packed into a long convoy of trucks have been idling on the Egyptian side of Rafah for days. On Wednesday, Israel said that it will allow Egypt to deliver limited humanitarian aid to Gaza, though the flow of relief is expected to fall short of what is needed, and the deal remains fragile.
‘Hundreds of tonnes of food, fuel, water, medicine and other lifesaving aid packed into a long convoy of trucks have been idling on the Egyptian side of Rafah for days.’ Photograph: Khaled Elfiqi/EPA
However, Egypt has remained steadfast in its refusal to allow for the mass resettlement of Palestinians in North Sinai. “We reject the displacement of Palestinians from their land,” the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, said on Wednesday, stressing that “the Palestinian cause is the mother of all causes and has a significant impact on security and stability”. He also warned that Egypt could then become a new base of Palestinian attacks against Israel. Meanwhile, Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, speaking on CNN, warned that the forcible resettling of Palestinians into Egypt might constitute a war crime.
While rejecting a policy that essentially amounts to a second Nakba (the mass displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war) is laudable, Cairo’s rhetoric invoking the Palestinian cause rings hollow. Egypt’s decisions are ultimately driven by national security concerns and avoiding what it would consider a nightmare scenario of a mass Palestinian refugee population to contend with on its own territory.
For years, Egypt has been complicit in the siege on Gaza, helping to enforce the blockade, destroying tunnels that provided a lifeline to the strip, and coordinating with Israel on security, including allowing Israeli drones, helicopters and warplanes to carry out a covert air campaign in Sinai. Egypt’s treatment of Palestinians entering and exiting Gaza is notorious for its indignity – the latest iteration being Palestinians who tried to enter Gaza only to find the border closed on 7 October, stranding them in North Sinai; they are being hosted by families who are under strict security instructions not to allow them to leave the neighbourhoods where they reside.
Egypt has erected barricades at the border to contain more tightly any mass exodus – should it come. Meanwhile, Israel has bombed the Rafah crossing four times, most recently slamming a missile right by the concrete barrier on Egyptian territory.
As it stands, the situation in Gaza is at a catastrophic impasse. Food and water are running out. Medicines and other critical supplies have been exhausted, with doctors performing surgery on floors, often without anaesthetics. There is little to no fuel or electricity. Even colour has been obliterated, with entire neighbourhoods now reduced to rubble, encased in grey concrete dust.
As of Thursday, the death toll in Gaza stood at 3,478, including more than a thousand children, according to the health ministry in Gaza. Another 1,300 people are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead. About a million have been displaced. And many more untold horrors we have yet to discover.
Mohammed Ghalayini, the son of an acquaintance, fled his home in Gaza City to Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza. He told me on Wednesday: “I think Israel’s endgame is for Palestinians to be pushed out of Gaza into Egypt: 100% that’s their gameplan. I think this is ethnic cleansing and genocide all wrapped into one.”
The idea of resettling Palestinians in Gaza to Sinai is not new. In the mid-1950s, the UN devised a plan to transfer thousands of Palestinian refugees in Gaza to Sinai’s north-western region, a project that was met with popular outrage and crushed in a mass uprising. After the Naksa of 1967 (the six-day war, in which Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, including Gaza), the Allon plan, drafted by Israeli politician Yigal Allon, envisioned the Gaza Strip being annexed to Israel. In 1971, about 400 Palestinian families displaced by the Israeli army were relocated to Arish, while 12,000 relatives of suspected Palestinian guerrillas were deported to detention camps in the Sinai desert and were only able to return to Gaza two decades later after significant international pressure.
Israel is seizing the moment. As western governments cheer them on, they are driving Palestinians in Gaza to the very brink. They might be trying to drive them out of Gaza altogether, to extend the arrows on the maps further outward.
Sharif Abdel Kouddous is an independent journalist based in New York and Cairo. He has reported multiple times from Gaza and across Palestine since 2011
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Since 7 October, questions have been posed over whether Hezbollah would intervene in the fight against Israel in aid of Hamas, and on the extent of Iran’s involvement in Hamas’s attack on Israel. Iran backs both Hamas and Hezbollah: they are military partners and have coordinated training and battles with support from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah take decisions to declare war or peace without explicit prior agreement from Iran.
However, battles are not the same as full-on war. To date, Hamas and Hezbollah have never been involved in a war on two fronts against Israel. This is a scenario that neither the two groups nor Iran take lightly, because such a scenario amounts to regional war in the Middle East, which is in no one’s interest.
Hamas’s objectives in the 7 October attack on Israel were political: it wants to assert itself as the sole legitimate representative of Palestinian voices by engaging in an act which, in its eyes, would be seen by its supporters as heroic and would force the international community to engage with it as a de – facto military and political authority.
Hezbollah recognises this approach as it pursued a similar strategy in its own war with Israel in 2006. At that time, Hamas did not intervene to support Hezbollah, leaving the latter to claim singlehanded “victory” against Israel. With Hezbollah being the better equipped of the two militant groups, there is a clear imperative for Hezbollah to let Hamas be the leading actor in this war so as not to detract from Hamas’s pursuit of status. This is partly why Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has been noticeably absent from the public domain since 7 October.
Iran, on the other hand, has always made sure its superiority over the groups it supports is known. Iran does not need to instruct Hamas to start a war with Israel or even to be directly involved in Hamas’s war planning. What Iran does is more nuanced: on the one hand it expresses support for the actions of Hamas but then shakes the stick of Hezbollah against Israel. This was seen in the 12 October speech by the Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, during his visit to Beirut when he raised the prospect of Israel receiving a response from “the rest of the axis”. This way Iran does not undermine Hamas’s stature, but at the same time the invocation of Hezbollah places it as a stand-in for all Iran-backed militias in the Middle East – Hamas included – and therefore affirms Iran’s position as their patron.
Yet, while they have been careful not to detract from the leading role Hamas is taking in the war, Hezbollah’s status does carry the expectation of not standing still while its ally is engaged in the most important fight of its history against Israel. This is translating into escalated but calculated attacks by Hezbollah on areas in northern Israel. The attacks have mainly been on military targets and disputed territories that Hezbollah regards as Lebanese but occupied by Israel. Hezbollah’s rockets have not reached areas further inside Israel, as they did in 2006. Although Israel has responded by bombing southern Lebanon, killing two civilians and a Reuters journalist in separate attacks, the extent of this bombing remains within 3km of Lebanon’s southern border and most of the targets are connected to Hezbollah. It is clear from Hezbollah’s actions and Israel’s reactions that both still abide by their undeclared rules of engagement whereby neither side sparks a new war.
But there is a threat that still looms: if such a war were to happen again, Israel has said it would no longer distinguish between Hezbollah and the rest of Lebanon. It is, though, not in Israel’s interest to open a northern front while it is engaged in a significant southern front, especially considering political divisions within the country and question marks over its security and intelligence apparatuses, which failed to see the Hamas attack coming. While this may seem like an opportune moment for Hezbollah to take advantage, the group must also answer to the Lebanese public. Lebanon is suffering from the worst financial crisis in its modern history and cannot withstand the cost of another war. Unlike in 2006, when the country could expect aid and reconstruction money from Arab Gulf countries in the war’s aftermath, those countries have made it clear they will no longer engage in this kind of unconditional rescue.
As things stand, the likelihood of escalation from Hezbollah is low, and lowered further by the fact that, unlike in 2006, it does not need another “victory” to consolidate its position in the country, as it is comfortably the the most powerful political actor in Lebanon. Nor will Iran want to sacrifice Hezbollah’s political gains for the sake of Hamas, as the Lebanese militant group’s role in aiding Iranian allies across the Arab world is key to Iran’s regional influence.
Iran’s preferred method of balancing politics and military action is for its allies to be on the frontline against Israel, so it can celebrate them as winners and martyrs at once. This way both Iran and these militant groups reap the political benefits while keeping Iranian territory out of the line of fire. That is why a Lebanese front is unlikely: it wouldn’t be in Iran’s interests, as it would entail the intervention of the US, which has already sent aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean as a deterrent. US intervention sparks the potential for the war to spread to Iran itself, which is the last thing Iran wants. Its role and Hezbollah’s position would seem to suggest that, unless something dramatically changes, they are adhering to their post-2006 stance of mutual deterrence.
Lina Khatib is director of the Soas Middle East Institute and associate fellow at the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House
The animating hatred of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel was specific — this was a pogrom against Jews — but the massacre was indiscriminate in its deadly swath. The victims were overwhelmingly Israeli Jews, but Jews and non-Jews alike were among the more than 1,400 people killed. They came from dozens of countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the United States.
It was an attack on the state of Israel, of course, because Hamas — like other Iranian puppets, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen — thinks the nation has no right to exist. For Islamist fanatics such as these, though, a more basic motivation is this: They want Jews dead. Consider the recording revealed by the Israel military on Monday of an exultant Hamas terrorist calling his parents, crowing, “Your son killed so many Jews. Mum, your son is a hero.”
Many serious and candid people know that the masterminds and financiers of the slaughter, its strategists and tacticians, have an address: Tehran.
“Iran invaded Israel,” Robert C. O’Brien told me in a radio interview last week. The former national security adviser to President Donald Trump had previously served in his administration as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs during a period that saw dozens of American hostages returned to the United States. O’Brien has great diplomatic skills, but now he does not mince words.
Of Hamas and the Oct. 7 attack, O’Brien said, “These guys are serial killers. They’re not even terrorists. I think that’s too good of a label for them. This is like having Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy and a bunch of them living as your neighbors. You can’t have John Wayne Gacy as your neighbor who’s killed a couple of your kids, and then say ‘Well, if you build a higher wall, you know, it’ll be fine to keep him as a neighbor.’ These serial killers of Hamas have to be rooted out.”
That is the sort of clarity and resolve needed today. Let’s also be clear about who is allied with Iran’s so-called supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: dictators Xi Jinping in China and Vladimir Putin in Russia. The ruthlessness of these tyrants is not in dispute.
Khamenei, before aiding and encouraging the Oct. 7 slaughter in Israel, crushed protests in his own country, leaving hundreds dead. Xi’s Chinese Communist Party has perpetrated genocide against the Uyghur people of the Xinjiang region. Putin long ago demonstrated his capacity for barbarism, in Russia’s assaults on Chechnya in the 1990s, and he followed that brutal path in the invasion of Ukraine.
Perhaps too many in the West are not familiar enough with Xi’s and Putin’s outrages. The CCP worked hard to conceal its campaign against the Uyghurs, and as retired general David Petraeus and historian Andrew Roberts note in their new book, “Conflict,” the full extent of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine are still yet to be known.
But make no mistake, these regimes are in league with Iran as enemies of freedom and democracy. They supply each other raw materials, weapons and investment. It is all one enemy, one evil force, waging war on the West.
This is not the “clash of civilizations” Samuel P. Huntington predicted in the 1990s. It is a clash between the civilized — the West, both as traditionally represented by the nation-state, but also by those peoples held captive by these uncivilized regimes — and the barbaric.
Unless we first recognize the barbarity, the depth of the depravity coursing through these three linked regimes, we cannot possible defeat it. Can a post-Christian West, tied in knots by “social issues,” rally to its own defense?
The combined poisons of communism, fascism and Islamist fanaticism cannot be defeated without a moral clarity that too many hesitate to express for fear of offending the small contingent of fellow citizens who prefer to impose their own absurd ideological slogans on everyone. The vast bulk of U.S. universities cannot even rise to the effort of condemning the Oct. 7 butchery, or of articulating the principles of a “just war,” or of offering a coherent definition of what “proportionality” in the law of armed conflict actually means.
The widespread outcry against these craven institutions was encouraging: Maybe the West is finally beginning to wake up to the threats from the gathering storm clouds that grow ever darker, and ever closer.
Due anni fa ha lasciato l’agenzia. Qualcuno lo vedeva come successore di Netanyahu alla guida del Likud. Sulla riforma della giustizia ha cercato di non dispiacere a nessuno. Oggi è al fianco delle famiglie degli ostaggi nelle mani di Hamas mettendo al servizio loro e di Israele i suoi contatti. Domani in politica? Chissà
Sono passati poco più di due anni da quando Yossi Cohen ha lasciato la guida del Mossad a David Barnea, allora suo vice. Di lui, diventato consulente di SoftBank dopo aver diretto l’agenzia d’intelligence israeliana focalizzata sulle operazioni all’estero, e del suo futuro si è detto molto. Perfino che sarebbe stato il candidato più forte alla guida del Likud dopo Benjamin Netanyahu, al quale è molto legato da tempo. Ma il suo articolo di luglio su Yedioth Ahronoth in cui auspicava uno stop della riforma della giustizia promossa dal primo ministro e dalla sua maggioranza di destra (l’ha definita “giusta e giustificata” ma fatta in un modo che “mette in pericolo la resistenza della sicurezza nazionale dello Stato di Israele nell’immediato”) potrebbe aver cambiato le carte in tavola. Ma non le sue ambizioni politiche. Anzi, quell’intervento è sembrato a molti un esercizio di equilibrismo di Cohen.
Nei giorni scorsi l’ex capo del Mossad ha accompagnato le famiglie degli ostaggi nelle mani di Hamas e dei dispersi negli incontri con il presidente israeliano Isaac Herzog, con il presidente statunitense Joe Biden, con il primo ministro Netanyahu e con Benny Gantz, uno dei leader dell’opposizione che è stato convolto nel gabinetto di guerra istituto dopo il 7 ottobre. Al termine dell’incontro con Herzog, Eyal Eshel, padre della diciannovenne soldatessa Roni, si è detto “più rassicurato”. Poi si è rivolto al primo ministro Netanyahu: “Signor primo ministro, lei ha arruolato le ragazze, le ha mandate nell’esercito, noi chiediamo che le riporti a casa”. Meirav, madre di Guy Gilboa-Dalal che era al festival musicale di Re’im, ha detto di aver ricevuto “sostegno emotivo” durante l’incontro e che Herzog “è un uomo rispettabile, caloroso e amorevole”. Ha aggiunto che non hanno ricevuto alcuna notizia durante l’incontro e che ciò che desidera sentire è che “mio figlio sta tornando a casa. Voglio vedere in televisione che gli ostaggi sono tornati. Svegliarmi con una notizia del genere”.
Cohen sta usando la sua rete di contatti nei Paesi arabi, in particolare in Qatar, per riportare a casa gli ostaggi. Lo stesso stanno facendo alcuni ex dirigenti dello Shin Bet, l’intelligence interna, come l’ex capo Yaakov Peri a cui si sono rivolte alcune famiglie. Oltre al loro, c’è ovviamente il lavoro del governo: in particolare di Gal Hirsch, incaricato dal premier di gestire la questione, e di Ronen Levi, nome in codice Maoz, da inizio anno direttore generale del ministero degli Esteri, dopo una trentennale carriera nello Shin Bet e al Consiglio di sicurezza nazionale, tra gli architetti degli Accordi di Abramo che hanno portato alla normalizzazione delle relazioni tra Israele e alcuni Paesi arabi.
Nei giorni scorsi Cohen aveva risposto così a una domanda di Israel Hayom sulle difficoltà di un’operazione terrestre a Gaza alla luce degli oltre 200 prigionieri. “Questo rende la missione delle Forze di difesa israeliane più complessa, ma fa parte della nostra realtà. Non negoziamo direttamente con Hamas, non lo abbiamo mai fatto. Tuttavia, diversi intermediari sono probabilmente impegnati in sforzi per il loro rilascio”, ha aggiunto. Più recentemente, a Channel 12 News, ha inviato a “non avere fretta” per l’operazione terrestre. “L’assedio di Gaza è critico ed essenziale e, prima di entrare in un’area così satura di potenziali sorprese, anche l’intelligence dovrebbe essere aggiornata. Non appena le Forze di difesa israeliane saranno chiamate a intervenire, saranno pronte con tutte le sue forze”. Inoltre, “c’è una tensione intrinseca e difficile: perché da un lato diciamo ‘preparatevi’ e l’esercito continua a prepararsi con tutti i mezzi, dall’altro non si può rinunciare ad alcune opportunità per il rilascio degli ostaggi”, ha aggiunto.
Nell’intervista a Israel Hayom, Cohen aveva anche parlato di Hamas che va “eliminata” dalla Striscia e dell’Iran “presente in tutto il conflitto”. Aveva detto di aspettarsi un’indagine sugli errori di (sotto)valutazione. E aveva elogiato coloro che, tra gli addetti ai lavori, si sono assunti le responsabilità dell’impreparazione come Aharon Haliva, capo dell’Aman, l’intelligence militare.
“La classe dirigente civile dovrebbe fare lo stesso?”, l’ultima domanda. “Dovete chiederlo a loro. Sapete come raggiungerli”, la risposta laconica che in questa fase non può non far pensare al futuro, al suo in primis ma anche a quello di una classe dirigente, quella attuale, che rischia di saltare non appena lo scenario diventerà meno imprevedibile.