Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Israel wants Hamas out of Gaza but even rooting it from the north hasn’t worked

Fighting between Israel and Hamas intensified in northern Gaza, the first battleground in the war, where 200 days into the conflict territory is still heavily contested and Israel says thousands of militants remain.

The renewed violence, in areas Israeli forces had previously largely cleared of Hamas, serves as a sobering example of the difficulty of consolidating gains as they prepare an offensive in the southern city of Rafah, the militant group’s last major bastion.

Stabilising northern Gaza will take time, said Amir Avivi, a former deputy commander in the Israeli military who oversaw operations in Gaza. “A huge challenge is not the first part, when you go full-scale and control an area: It’s maintaining and deepening that control,” said Avivi. “It’s a different kind of warfare.” Intense clashes have occurred in recent days in the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia, close to the fence with Israel, and in Gaza City, which before the war was the enclave’s most populous locale. Residents of the city reported multiple strikes in the Zeitoun neighbourhood.

The Israeli military’s Arabic-language spokesman in a message on X on Tuesday instructed people in the Beit Lahia area to immediately evacuate for their own safety, saying: “You are in a dangerous combat zone.”

Earlier Tuesday, the military said four rockets were launched from northern Gaza toward the Israeli city of Sderot on Tuesday morning, a reminder of the enduring ability of militants to target Israeli territory. All four rockets were intercepted, but a falling piece of shrapnel set fire to a warehouse, according to the local municipality.

Northern Gaza was the site of Israel’s first major operations against Hamas in the wake of attacks by the militants on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities. The Israeli military launched a widespread aerial-bombing campaign there in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on southern Israel before beginning its ground invasion of the enclave in the area a few weeks later. More than 34,000 people have been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to Palestinian health officials. The numbers don’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel considered northern Gaza the heart of the militant group’s intelligence and operational activities. Most Palestinians at the time fled south for safety at the direction of the Israeli military.

But even as the focus of the fighting gradually shifted south in Israel’s hunt for Hamas militants, northern Gaza remained a stubborn flashpoint in the war. Israeli forces largely dismantled Hamas’s combat battalions operating in northern Gaza, but Hamas fighters regrouped in smaller units, shifting to urban guerrilla-warfare tactics. There are still several thousand militants in northern Gaza, according to an Israeli defence official. Around 300,000 people still live there.

Ghassan Hisham, 43, a resident of Zeitoun, said artillery shelling in the area started on Monday evening and continued into Tuesday. Many of his neighbours fled. “I choose not to because we have a lot of children and adults, and we have nowhere else to go,” Hisham said. The violence was some of the worst he has witnessed since the early months of the war, he said.

Khalil Kahlout, a resident of the Jabalia neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, said that there have been frequent air strikes and shelling in nearby Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun since Monday morning and that the intensity of the violence has picked up.

“Some residents of Beit Lahia have fled to shelters in Jabalia because of the shelling,” he said. “The bombardment continues.”

The Israeli military on Tuesday morning said it had struck 25 targets across the strip over the past day, including rocket-launch posts.

The clashes in the north come as Israeli forces have temporarily scaled back the number of troops and the intensity of their operations in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this month, Israel’s military said it called up two reserve brigades to the enclave as Israel prepares a ground incursion in Rafah, where they believe Hamas has its four last battalions. That is also where Israeli officials believe some hostages kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7 are being held.

More than one million Palestinians who have fled the fighting elsewhere in the strip are currently sheltering in Rafah. The city is also the hub for the humanitarian response for the whole of Gaza, where the majority of the population of 2.2 million is suffering from acute levels of hunger and can’t access adequate medical care.

Israel says it will ensure civilians can be evacuated from battle zones before a ground incursion in Rafah, something on which the Biden administration has repeatedly pressed the Israelis.

Israeli forces want to prevent civilians and militants reaching the north when they leave Rafah and are working to bolster their control of the strip of land that cuts the enclave in two.

“That’s important because there is a vast infrastructure of terror in Gaza. Dealing with the remaining tunnels, weapons, and [improvised explosive devices] spread all around will take a long time. It cannot be done if you have hundreds of thousands of citizens moving around,” said Avivi, who is also founder of the Israel Defense and Security Forum think tank.

Talks for a ceasefire have stalled in part over whether Israel will concede to Hamas’s demand to allow the unrestricted return of Gazans to the northern part of the enclave, in addition to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas – moves that if done in tandem could allow Hamas to regain power in the strip and survive the war.


Even as Americans grow increasingly pessimistic and agitated about their personal finances, Congress is about to ask struggling families to cover the cost of more funding for Ukraine.

Ukraine aid just prolongs the war. Very foolish

The $95 billion foreign aid package adopted Saturday by the House and facing near-certain passage in the Senate includes an additional $61 billion for Ukraine. Once added to the money already appropriated for Ukraine since 2022, the United States will have spent approximately $173 billion.

That translates to more than $1,300 per American household, according to Heritage Foundation economist Richard Stern, director of the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget.

“This will continue to drive higher inflation and interest rates and increase the cost of living for Americans,” Stern told The Daily Signal. “No matter where you live, every American family will pay the price.”

Stern explained that the funding isn’t offset with spending cuts and will instead be added to “the national credit card and by printing cash out of thin air at the Fed.” He warned that it will devalue the U.S. dollar as well as the paychecks and life savings of all Americans.

After three years of Bidenomics, Americans are feeling exasperated about the economy, pollster Scott Rasmussen discovered in an RMG Research survey conducted earlier this month.

Only 19% of Americans surveyed say their personal finances are improving. That number has dropped five percentage points since January and is at its lowest point in 18 months.
Nearly half, 44%, say their personal finances are getting worse.

By comparison, just 20% believe their incomes are keeping pace. That number is at its lowest level since September 2022.
Heritage Action for America Executive Vice President Ryan Walker lamented that Washington politicians appear disconnected from the economic struggles of many Americans. Speaking to “The Daily Signal Podcast,” Walker said Congress’ latest spending spree will negatively affect Americans’ personal finances.

“The American people see it at the grocery store, they see it on their credit card bills, they see it in their mortgage rates, they see it in their credit card rates. They experience this on a daily basis,” Walker said. “Many people in Washington, D.C., may be so disconnected from the struggles of the average person in their community that they don’t take those factors into consideration. And they should.”

While frustration mounts among everyday Americans, lawmakers in Washington will soon have spent more on foreign aid to Ukraine than the annual wages paid to every American manufacturing worker who produces motor vehicles, vehicle parts, and other transportation equipment. It’s also more than the annual wages paid to every American worker in all agriculture, mining, and oil and gas extraction industries, Stern calculated.

With the Senate set to approve $61 billion more for Ukraine—along with $34 billion for Israel and the Indo-Pacific—lawmakers have made no attempt to offset the additional spending. On its own, the $95 billion package would cost $730 per household.

“Every time the federal government spends money, it forcefully takes that money from hard-working Americans,” Stern explained. “Even if you don’t pay federal income taxes, you still pay through inflation taxes and slower overall economic growth.”

The consequences of profligate spending aren’t just reflected in the national debt, already at $34.6 trillion and growing at a record pace. Stern noted that high interest rates for mortgages, for example, force some Americans out of the housing market or make it more costly for others to buy a home.

When the government borrows money this way, driving interest rates higher, it does so by promising to tax someone else or print more money in the future, Stern said.

As the government is now planning to lift yet another $95 billion out of the economy, the storm clouds are gathering. Mortgage rates jumped 0.2 percentage points in just a week. Chase Bank CEO Jamie Dimon and other leading bankers see mortgage rates climbing to about 8% with credit card debt already at record levels.

“Never forget,” Stern said, “the government has a monopoly on legal violence and doesn’t have any reason to care about your quality of life.”

Rasmussen’s poll was conducted by RMG Research from April 3-4. It surveyed 1,000 registered voters and has a plus or minus 3.1 percentage point margin of error.


Former British PM Liz Truss Warns About Global Threat of the Left

Liz Truss served as prime minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party from September to October 2022. She is the author of “Ten Years to Save the West.”

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss spoke Monday at The Heritage Foundation about how the United States and the United Kingdom are facing very challenging forces in the global Left, not just in terms of their extremist activists, but also in the power they hold in our institutions. (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.)

She warned that conservatives must create a stronger infrastructure to take on the Left—which is well-funded, activist, and has many friends in high places—by recruiting more conservative activists and candidates who can fight in the trenches in the ideological war that we now face.

Excerpts from her remarks are below.

Why am I launching “Ten Years to Save the West” in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom? Well, I like to think of the United States of America as Britain’s greatest invention, albeit a slightly inadvertent invention. And if you look at our history, from Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights to the American Constitution, we have developed and perfected representative democracy.

And if you look at what is going on in our societies, first of all, the Brexit vote back in 2016 and then the election of President Donald Trump later that year, you can see the same desires of our people for change and the same desires for those conservative values and that sovereignty.

And if you look at the battle for conservatism now and the frequency with which we get new prime ministers in the United Kingdom and the frequency with which you get new speakers of the House here in the United States, we can see again that there is a battle for the heart and soul of conservatism on both sides of the Atlantic. And I think that battle is very important. Because, let’s be honest, we have not been winning against the global Left.

If you look at the history since the turn of the millennium, the Left have had the upper hand. And it’s not the old-fashioned Left who used to argue about the means of production and economic inequality. It’s the new Left who have insidious ideas that challenge our very way of life.

Whether it’s about climate extremism that doesn’t believe in economic growth, whether it’s about challenging the very idea of a man and a woman and biological sex, whether it’s about the human rights culture that’s been bedded into so much of our society that makes us unable to deal with illegal immigration—those new ideas have been promulgated by the global Left and they have been successful in infiltrating quite a large proportion of society and a large part of our institutions.

Let’s just look at the state of economics. I am a supply-sider. I know that it works. We saw it work under [U.S. President Ronald] Reagan and [U.K. Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher, and yet we’ve seen the domination of Keynesian economics in recent years, bloated size of government, huge debts in both of our countries.

On the immigration and human rights culture, look at what is going on now on American university campuses where it is not safe anymore to be Jewish, or the streets of London where a Jewish man could not cross the road during yet another appalling protest, or the fact that we can’t seem to deport illegal immigrants either from your southern border or the small boats that are crossing the channel.

Or take wokery, another bad neo-Marxist idea developed from [Michel] Foucault and all those crazy post-modernists in the 1960s, the idea that biological sex is not a reality.

We now have President [Joe] Biden introducing regulations around Title IX, which means that girls could see biological boys in their changing rooms, in their locker rooms, in their school restrooms and not be able to do anything about it. And if they complain about it, they could be the ones guilty of harassment. How on earth can that be happening in our society?

Or the climate extremists who aren’t satisfied with just stopping coal-fired power stations here in America, [liquefied natural gas] terminals being built, fracking in the United Kingdom, but want to go further. Whether it’s imposing electric vehicles or air-source heat pumps or extra taxes on the public. Meanwhile, our adversaries in China are busy building coal-fired power stations every week.

I see that as unilateral economic disarmament in the middle of what is a various, serious threat to the West.

So how has it ended up that after the turn of the millennium, despite the fact that we have many conservative intellectuals and politicians, why have our institutions, why has so much of our public discourse shifted to the Left?

Well, first of all, too many conservatives have not been making the argument. Now, I call them conservatives in name only, CINOs. I know in America you call them RINOs. But these conservatives in name only, rather than taking on those ludicrous ideas, instead have tried to appease and meet them halfway.

Why have they done this? Well, first of all, they don’t want to look mean. They don’t want to look like they’re against human rights. They don’t want to look like they’re against the environment. They don’t want to be mean to transgender people. They’ve allowed those arguments to affect their views on what is right and wrong. But it’s also more cynical than that.

If you want to get a good job after politics, if you want to get into the corporate boardroom, there are a group of acceptable views and opinions that you should hold. And most of them are on that list. If you want to be popular and get invited to a lot of dinner parties in Washington, D.C., or London, there are reviews on that list that you should hold. And people have chosen dinner parties over principle.

But the other thing I think we’ve missed on the conservative side of the argument, and I put my hands up to this, is the rising power of the administrative state. The fact that power—which previously lay in the hands of democratically elected politicians, like them or not they can be voted out of office—is now in the hands of so-called independent bodies, whether it’s central banks, whether it’s government agencies, or whether it’s the civil service themselves.

And what we’re seeing in bureaucracy in the United Kingdom, and I think here in the United States as well, is a growing activist class of civil servants who have views on transgender ideology or climate or human rights, which they are keen to promote in their roles.

I saw this firsthand and one of the key points the book is about is my battles that I had with that institutional mindset. And there’s a phrase that we use in Britain called “consent and evade.” Quite often the officials will be very polite on the request, but it will take a very long time to do if it’s something like helping deport illegal immigrants or sort out the Rwanda scheme. If it’s something that they like, like dealing with climate change, that will be expedited.

And I think it’s very difficult for people who haven’t worked in government to understand just how cumbersome and how treacle-like it has become. And I don’t know if that’s a product of the modern era, if it’s a product of the online society, but it is very, very difficult now to deliver conservative policies.

Now, I did many jobs in many different government departments. I was in the justice department, the environment department, the education department, the treasury, I was in trade, I was in the foreign office, and I faced battles against activist lawyers, against environmentalists, against left-wing educationalists.

But what I thought when I ran to be prime minister in 2022 is I thought I had the opportunity to change things because that was surely the apex of power. I hadn’t been able to change it as environment secretary or trade secretary, but as prime minister, surely that was the opportunity for me to be able to really change things.

Now, there’s a bit of a spoiler alert about the book. It didn’t quite work out. I ended up being the shortest-serving British prime minister as a result of trying to take on these forces. And the particular thing that I tried to take them on was the whole issue of our economy.


I come today with a warning to the United States of America. I fear the same forces will be coming for President Donald Trump if he wins the election this November. There is a huge resistance to pro-growth supply-side policies that will deliver economic dynamism and help reduce debt.

What the international institutions and the economic establishment want to see is they want to see higher taxes, higher spending, and more big government, and more regulation. They do not want to see that challenged. And we’ve already heard noises from the Congressional Budget Office and elements of the United States market about the financial stability situation.

So, what have I learned from my experience? What have I learned from my time in office? I have learned that we are facing really quite challenging forces of the global Left, not just in terms of their virulent activists making extremist documents, but also the power they hold in our institutions. And that leads me to believe that what conservatives need is what I describe as a bigger bazooka.

Now, what do I mean by a bigger bazooka? Well, first of all, I mean that we need really strong conservative political infrastructure to be able to take on the Left. They are well-funded, they are activists, they have many friends in high places. And we need strength and depth in our political operation.

That’s why I’m working on a new political movement in the U.K. called Popular Conservatism, which is about bringing in more activists, more candidates, more potential legislators, more operators who can actually fight in the trenches against the Left in the ideological warfare that we now face.

The second thing we need to do is we need to dismantle the administrative state. And there are lots of people I speak to who say, “It’s just because you ministers aren’t tough enough. If only you were a bit bolder in taking on things, if only you had a bit more political will, you would be able to deliver.”

Those people are not right. Until we actually change the system, we are not going to be able to deliver conservative policy such as the depths of resistance in our institutions and our bureaucracy that we do have to change things first.

And what does that mean? Well, you’re ahead of us in the United States in that the president gets to appoint 3,000 people into the government positions. In Britain it’s only 100 people. And those 100 people are relatively junior. They’re not in charge of departments. So, I believe we need to change that in Britain. We need to properly appoint senior figures in our bureaucracy.

We also need to deal with the proliferation of unaccountable bureaucratic bodies. They have to go. There has to be a real bonfire of the quangos.

But even here in the United States, policies like Schedule F are going to be very, very important in order to be able to deliver a conservative agenda. And the project that Heritage is sponsoring, Project 2025, is another vital part of building that institutional infrastructure that can actually deliver conservative policies. Having seen what I’ve seen on both sides of the Atlantic, I think both of those things are vital in order for conservative policies to deliver.

But we can’t just deal with the administrative state at a national level because what we’ve also got is the global administrative state. We have the United Nations, the World Health Organization, we have the [Conference of the Parties] process.

And one of the things I tried to do was stop Britain hosting COP in Glasgow. I failed. But I want to see us in the future abandon that process. The best people to make decisions are people that are democratically elected in sovereign nations. It is not people sitting on international bodies who are divorced from the concerns of the public.

The final thing conservatives need to do is end appeasement. And by ending appeasement, I’m talking about the appeasement of woke Orwellianism at home as well as the appeasement of totalitarianism abroad. We have to do both of those things because both of those things are threatening our way of life.

Totalitarian regimes like China, Russia, and Iran have to be stood up to, the only thing they understand is strength. And now the military aid budget has been passed through Congress. There needs to be more clarity about how Russia can be defeated and how China and Iran will also be taken on. And in order to achieve that, we are going to need a change in personnel at the White House.

Now, I worked in Cabinet whilst Donald Trump was president and while President Biden was president. And I can assure you, the world felt safer when Donald Trump was in office. 2024 is going to be a vital year, and it’s the reason that I wanted to bring my book out now. Because getting a conservative back in the White House is critical to taking on the global Left. And I hate to think what life would be like with another four years of appeasement of the woke Left in the United States, as well as continued weakness on the international stage.

But my final message is that winning in 2025 or winning in 2024 and going into government in 2025 is not enough. It’s not enough just to win. It’s not enough just to have those conservative policies. That there will be huge resistance from the administrative state and from a Left in politics that has never been more extremist or more virulent.

And that is why it will need all the resources of the American conservative movement, think tanks like Heritage, and hopefully your allies in the United Kingdom to succeed. But you must succeed because the free world needs you.


Australian unions’ vile anti-Israel diatribe

As Jewish families leave an empty place at their Passover tables in memory of the hostages still missing at the hands of Hamas, comments by ACTU president Michele O’Neil and secretary Sally McManus about Israel are ignorant. The pair have ignited a battle with Australia’s Jewish community, calling for the Albanese government to end military trade with ­Israel, enforce sanctions against Israeli government officials and ­inject a further $100m of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank. Bob Hawke, a former ACTU president who warned “If the bell tolls for Israel, it won’t just toll for Israel, it will toll for all mankind”, would be horrified.

In demanding immediate recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, the union bosses do not appear to understand why a two-state solution is out of the question until Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation that controls Gaza, is defeated. Or does it not bother Ms O’Neil and Ms McManus that Iran is running a war to annihilate Israel through proxies, including Hamas, and is an implacable opponent of the US and its allies? The ACTU is living in “an alternative reality”, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said.

The union bosses’ views are immoral in view of the brutality and values of Hamas, seen in the unprovoked attack that killed 1200 people in Israel on October 7 and in the terrorist group’s kidnappings of 250 Israelis. The comments are contrary to Australia’s strategic and economic interests, and could help fuel anti-Semitism that has reared its ugly head in the past six months.

Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy, has superior military technology and outstanding intelligence capabilities. It has been a staunch Australian ally for more than 75 years and has “shared intelligence with us and thwarted terrorist attacks against our own interests, including against members of the Australian Defence Force”, as Peter Dutton said in his Tom Hughes Oration in Sydney a fortnight ago. In July 2017, a tip from Israeli intelligence helped authorities stop a plot to blow up an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi with a bomb smuggled in a meat grinder. Two brothers behind the plot were sentenced to 40 and 36 years’ jail.

Nor is the ACTU’s opposition to Australian companies supplying parts used in supply chains for F-35 fighter jets legitimate. Doling out bad advice on foreign and strategic policy is not the ACTU’s role, which is promoting the pay and conditions of its members. Rank-and-file workers deserve better from highly paid leaders who are remote from the interests of the nation and its allies. The Albanese government should ignore these officials’ rantings.




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