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  • Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, attends a rally marking the anniversary of Land Day, in Gaza City on March 30, 2022. (photo: Attia Muhammed, Flash90)

    Despite Israeli voices raising cautious optimism over a potential hostage and ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip, Hamas again upped its demands following talks in Paris, requesting a permanent ceasefire as well as a complete retreat of Israeli forces.

    The question that must be asked is: Which card is Hamas holding that allows them to up their demands?

    It is not a coincidence that the negotiating party craving a truce would be the same one that would toughen its stance. The unexpected answer is, that Hamas understands it holds the humanitarian card.

  • Palestinians protest after Friday prayers of the holy month of Ramadan, at the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem's Old City, March 31, 2023. (photo credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

    Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday warned that Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas are trying to use Ramadan to inflame the region so as to achieve another October 7 disaster against Israel.

    According to Gallant, their hope is to provoke Palestinians in the West Bank, Hezbollah, and Arabs and Muslims across the region to attack and turn their rage on Israel, using the Temple Mount and tensions in the West Bank as an excuse.

    The defense minister has been a leading voice for smashing Hamas and earlier in the war, tried to persuade the war cabinet to launch a preemptive strike on Hezbollah.

  • IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks during an assessment in northern Israel, February 27, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi warns that Hezbollah will “pay a very high price” for its continued attacks on northern Israel.

    “Hezbollah decided on October 7th, in the evening, that it is joining. For that it must pay a very high price,” Halevi says during an assessment in northern Israel, with the chief of the Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, and the commander of the 146th Division, Brig. Gen. Yisrael Shomer.

    Halevi says the IDF is “taking the right steps” to enable some 80,000 displaced Israelis from Lebanon border communities to return to their homes. He says that as a result of the IDF’s actions, “Hezbollah is no longer close to the fence.”

  • Inside the tunnel network unearthed by the IDF. February 26, 2024. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

    Forces of Division 162, along with the Nahal Brigade's combat team and engineering forces, unearthed an underground tunnel network that connects the north and south of the Gaza Strip, the military announced on Monday.

    The underground routes run for some 10 km and pass under a hospital and a university.


    After gaining operational control of the network, IDF soldiers examined it and destroyed large portions of it. 


    The underground routes connected the Turkish hospital bordering the camps in the center of the Strip to the Israa  University building in the south of Gaza City, reaching as far as the area of Zeitoun.

  • IAF F-35 stealth fighter aircraft fly in Israeli airspace. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

    Following Hezbollah’s interception of an Israeli drone on Monday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said it was attacking the terrorist organization “deep inside Lebanon,” with reports of an attack in the area of Baalbek, located about 42 miles northeast of Beirut.

    Fighter jets struck sites used by Hezbollah’s air defense array in the Beqaa Valley, “in response to the launch of surface-to-air missiles towards an unmanned aerial vehicle of the ‘Hermes 450’ type, that fell earlier today,” according to the IDF spokesperson.

    The strikes are the deepest attack carried out by the IDF in Lebanese territory since the beginning of the war.

  • Foreign Minister Israel Katz tours the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem, February 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg, Flash90)

    Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused the UN Human Rights Council of collaborating with Hamas on Saturday, after a group of UN rights officials called for an arms embargo on Israel, saying that any export of weapons or ammunition to the Jewish state for use in Gaza was “likely to violate international humanitarian law.”

    In the statement, issued under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the rights experts said that all countries have a responsibility not to sell weapons “if it is expected, given the facts or past patterns of behavior, that they would be used to violate international law.” The same thing went for military intelligence, the statement noted.

    In response to the statement, the Foreign Ministry reiterated that Israel was fighting the war in self-defense and that “even in the face of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Hamas terrorists, Israel has acted, and will continue to act, in accordance with international law.”

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on February 22, 2024 in Kazan, Russia. According to a new report from TASS, Putin was not notified of Armenia’s departure from his “mini NATO” ahead of the announcement on Friday. (photo: Getty Images)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin was caught off guard by Armenia's suspending its membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a crucial military alliance for Moscow.

    Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said during an interview with France 24 on Friday that Armenia would leave CSTO, viewed as Putin's response to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a Western military alliance. CSTO is an alliance in which member nations pledge to support one another in the event of an attack and has frequently been referred to as Putin's "mini NATO."

  • Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet security services, left, with Mossad chief David Barnea at the annual IDF memorial ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War at Yad La-Shiryon, September 27, 2023. (photo: Jonathan Shaul, Flash90)

    The Israeli delegation returns from talks in Paris with cautious optimism that a deal can be reached to temporarily halt the fighting with the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip and see Israeli and foreign hostages released.

    An Israeli official quoted by Hebrew multiple media sites says that an “outline of an agreement” was reached by the Israeli, American, Egyptian and Qatari representatives for a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza war, sparked by the terror group’s October 7 massacres.

    “There were good talks, there’s significant progress,” Channel 12 quotes the official as saying. “We have a basis on which to build a plan and the negotiations.”

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem, October 18 2019 (photo: Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO)

    The Biden administration declared that settlements are illegal, as it rescinded the “Pompeo doctrine” to underscore its objection to Israel’s declared intention to advance plans for 3,000 new homes in the West Bank.

    “We’re disappointed in the announcement,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday during a joint press conference in Buenos Aires.

    “It’s been longstanding US policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace,” he said.

    Their words were a reversal from the highly publicized Trump administration policy in 2019, issued by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who declared that settlements are not inconsistent with international law. It has since been dubbed the “Pompeo doctrine.”

  • Protesters attempt to block a street during a demonstration to demand the release of the hostages taken by Hamas terrorists into the Gaza Strip during the Oct. 7th attack, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 20, 2024 (file photo: Leo Correa, AP)

    An Israeli delegation of top security officials returned from talks in Paris on Saturday as reports spread of growing hope in Jerusalem that a new hostage release deal with Hamas could be within reach.

    Israel’s war cabinet was conferring by telephone on Saturday evening to discuss the emerging “outline of an agreement,” described by an Israeli official cited widely in media as a “basis on which to build a plan and the principles for negotiations.”

    “There’s significant progress and a solid basis for discussions,” the official said.

    Appearing to confirm some of the details of the outline, a Hamas source told the AFP news agency earlier that the plan being discussed proposed a six-week pause in the fighting and the release of 200-300 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for 35-40 hostages being held by Hamas.

  • A general view of houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank. (photo: Ammar Awad, Reuters)

    Israel intends to advance plans for 3,000 new settler homes in the aftermath of the West Bank terror attack next to a checkpoint heading into Jerusalem, in which one man was killed, and another eight were injured.

    “Let every terrorist plotting to harm us know that any raising of a hand against Israeli citizens will be met with a blow of death and destruction and the deepening of our eternal grip on the entire Land of Israel,” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich stated.

    He was one of a number of ministers who, together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, decided on the plan that is likely only to increase the tension between Israel and its Western allies, including the United States.

  • Israel supporters gather during a protest, following Hamas' biggest attack on Israel in years, in Paris, France, October 9, 2023 (photo: Benoit Tessier, Reuters)

    Hostage release talks between Israeli, American, Qatari, and Egyptian officials are underway in Paris.

    Mossad Chief David Barnea, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, and Hostage Affairs Coordinator Nitzan Alon, arrived earlier in the day and are currently meeting with CIA Chief Wiliam Burns, Egyptian Intelligence Head Abbas Kamel, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed al-Thani at an undisclosed location.

    According to some reports, Barnea is holding separate talks with Burns, Kamel, and al-Thani. A larger meeting should include also the other members of the delegations who arrived in Paris.

  • Israeli Navy missile boats carry out a drill in northern Israel, in a handout image released by the IDF on February 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

    The Israeli Navy’s fleet of missile boats carried out “extensive” exercises over the past week, the IDF said on Friday, as the military prepares for potential war in the north while Israel warns that its patience for a diplomatic solution is running out.

    Israel and Hezbollah also continued to exchange cross-border fire on Friday, as the Iran-backed terror group claimed to target a regional council building while the IDF said it intercepted a “suspicious” drone that crossed into its airspace.

    The IDF said the Navy drills simulated fighting in the northern maritime theater, and some exercises were carried out alongside the Israeli Air Force, including the 193rd Squadron which operates the AS565 Panther helicopters, primarily used for missions at sea.

  • This handout photo shows Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meeting with US envoy Brett McGurk, February 22, 2024. (photo: Ariel Hermoni, Israel Defense Ministry)

    Israel will likely decide late Thursday night on whether to send a negotiating team to Paris for a fresh round of hostage talks over the weekend, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel, as reports signaled increased flexibility from the Hamas terror group.

    The guardedly optimistic comments Thursday came as US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for the region arrived in Israel for high-level talks around efforts to advance an elusive deal to pause fighting in Gaza and free over 100 hostages held by terrorists in the Strip.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was slated to meet with Brett McGurk Thursday evening to discuss the potential hostage talks and a looming IDF operation in Rafah opposed by Washington and much of the international community.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a message to Hezbollah on Thursday during a visit to troops stationed near the Lebanese border, telling the Iranian terrorist proxy that it “must understand—we will restore security.”

    Surrounded by the snow-covered terrain of Mount Hermon, Netanyahu sat down with commanders from the 210th Division and the IDF Alpinist Unit.

    They briefed him on the activities on the northern front, where Hezbollah has been conducting daily cross-border attacks since joining Hamas in the war that started on Oct. 7. Israel has been pounding Hezbollah targets from the air inside Lebanon and with artillery at the border.

  • Benny Gantz during a press conference (Photo: Screenshot)

    War cabinet minister Benny Gantz, head of the National Unity party, issued a statement during a press conference Wednesday evening, saying that Israel is preparing for an operation in Rafah after it evacuates the civilians from the area.

    The minister also claimed that unilateral international recognition of a Palestinian state, without bilateral agreements, “a tailwind for terrorism.”

    “It would be a mistake to give such a tailwind to terrorism,” Gantz said. “Political arrangements must take place directly, otherwise they will not be sustainable. In any future situation, Israel will maintain its supremacy and security capability throughout the Gaza Strip.”

  • Israeli troops at war, Feb. 20, 2024. Credit: IDF/X.

    The Israel Defense Forces will likely begin maneuvering in Rafah, southern Gaza—the last Hamas stronghold—towards the end of February, and could complete the high-intensity phase of its war against Hamas by early May, a senior former Israeli defense official says.

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said during a call organized on Monday by the Jerusalem Press Club that by the start of March, the IDF will likely complete its operations in Khan Yunis and begin moving units into Rafah, assuming no hostage release deal is reached with Hamas, which would alter this timeline.

  • US envoy Brett McGurk in Bayan, Kuwait February 13, 2018. (photo: Stephanie McGehee, Reuters)

    US Middle East envoy Brett McGurk plans to visit Egypt and Israel to help push forward a hostage deal and ensure plans for Palestinian civilian safety in any IDF military operation in Gaza’s Rafah.

    “We are again in very sensitive negotiations that we hope will bear fruit soon, to be able to get these hostages out and get an extended pause [to the Gaza war] in place,” White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.

    McGurk is “heading to the region. He’ll be in Egypt tomorrow [Wednesday], then in Israel the next day,” Kirby said, explaining that the “principal focus of his efforts is to try to get that hostage deal in place.

  • US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield casts a veto vote during a UN Security Council meeting on the Israel-Hamas war, at UN Headquarters in New York City on February 20, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

    The United States vetoed an Arab-backed UN resolution Tuesday demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

    The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-1, with the United Kingdom abstaining, reflecting the wide support for ending the more than four-month war that started with Hamas’s surprise invasion of southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and saw 253 others taken hostage.

    It was the third US veto of a Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

  • Jerusalem expects intense fighting to continue in Gaza for another six to eight weeks, including in Rafah city, before scaling back the war effort, Reuters reported on Monday.

    “Military chiefs believe they can significantly damage Hamas’s remaining capabilities in that time, paving the way for a shift to a lower-intensity phase of targeted airstrikes and special forces operations,” the report stated, citing two Israeli officials and two regional officials familiar with the strategy.

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“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.” 
― E.M. Bounds