The view from my veranda

22nd November, 2023

22nd November 2023

Shalom dear friends. Last night a decision was made, a painful, almost impossible decision was made by the government to hold a conditional ceasefire and release of convicted terrorists in exchange for about 50 hostages, apparently women and children. It will be a gradual exchange, probably 10 hostages a day.

A list has been of 300 Palestinian detainees who could be released has been announced on Israel’s Justice Ministry website. Most are aged 17 or 18, with the overall age range 14-59. The majority of the detainees – 274 of 300 – are male. Also listed are the offences of the detainees. They include attempted murder, throwing a bomb, creating an explosive or incendiary object, throwing stones, contact with a hostile organisation, grievous bodily harm and arson on nationalist grounds.

The release of the terrorists has many ramifications, if you remember we released well over a thousand convicted terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit, also under a Netanyahu Government, including the mastermind of October the 7th  Yahya Ibrahim Hassan Sinwar. Sinwar brought hatred, poverty, corruption and cruelty to the people of Gaza and tragedy of huge proportions to the people of Israel. How do we take the decision to release more terrorists? Because there is no option, no choice. Babies and mothers, elderly women and children must come home, and of course the men and boys. Israel is lost if we don’t bring them home.

As President Herzog said: “The reservations are understandable, painful, and difficult, but given the circumstances I back and support the decision of the Prime Minister and the Government to move forward with the deal to release hostages. This is a moral and ethical duty that correctly expresses the Jewish and Israeli value of securing the freedom of those held captive, with the hope that it will be the first step in returning all the hostages home. The State of Israel, the IDF, and all the security forces will continue to act in every way possible to achieve this goal, alongside the restoration of the absolute security of the citizens of Israel.”

Finally, after 6 and a half weeks of sheer hell, the Red Cross is going to see the hostages. They will oversee the exchange and will finally give a report on their state of health. One cannot imagine the conditions, whether they have been given medication or whether their wounds have been tended.

Please God tomorrow morning at 10:00 the cease fire will begin, although Hamas often keeps the rockets coming until the last minute. Then, and only then, will we know for sure that some of the hostages will be freed. They will immediately be taken to centres, probably hospitals, where their medical state and their mental state will be assessed. Even small children were under threat of rape so we will not know anything until they are released.  Quite frankly I don’t care about the terrorist prisoners. They have been treated well, fed well, their every need watched over by Amnesty and the Red Cross, all of which gives you an example, gives the world an example of the difference between a democratic humane society and a gang of terrorists. We will get them eventually I promise, but first and foremost, we must get those innocents back.

In all the descriptions of the IDF, the honest ones, we are described as a humane army. This video clip shows IDF soldiers encounter with a group of Gazans fleeing South. What you see is soldiers giving them water and the pluga (company) medic who squats down to help a sick child whose mother is worried.

Listening to parents, brothers, sisters, partners, children, friends of soldiers lost in battle, hearing their descriptions of their lost loved ones, Zvi and I are overwhelmed by the descriptions of incredible leaders, young men and women who, in civilian life, cared for others, known by all in their communities, excellent students – and we came to understand how exceptional this army is. So many are officers, bearing out the long-believed adage when describing the IDF, “The officers lead their men into battle”

The United Nations Women’s Organisation released a report last week. The report did not mention the specific instructions of the Hamas leadership to rape women and little girls because the women and little girls raped were Israeli. The report expressed concern for the women of Gaza! November 25th is the United Nations International Day for the Prevention of Violence against Women, all women unless they are Jewish.

On a very different note, do you remember the video of the Maoris doing a Hakka, well this video really explains why they love Israel and more importantly, how they stopped a pro-Hamas rally with an amazing Hakka for Israel. Here they are in Brisbane.

Congressman Brian Mast asking relevant questions of two ladies who thought they understood the situation here

Zvi and I went to the Chabad sandwich filling station again. This time I switched from cheese, cucumber and tomato to tuna and pickle while Zvi went over to the packing station, each bag clearly marked with Hummus, cheese, tuna or chocolate spread. It is so important to feel that you are doing something, even making sandwiches. I came home and taught my friend and neighbour how to knit because our village has a “knit a hat for a soldier” drive. Zvi wasn’t home because he and his choir went to sing at a hotel where many refugees are staying. Israelis are of one heart, irrespective of religion.

60 years ago today a young, handsome President was in his open car in Dallas Texas when a gunman shot him and killed him. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated and the world went into shock. That day, that moment is burned into my brain for a very different reason. Also the death of a young person, my Mother. As my brother Ronnie and I heard the news of the assassination, Dr Grossman came downstairs and gave the bitter news of my Mother’s passing to my father. 60 years ago. So when people ask me if I remember where I was when Kennedy was killed, yes I most certainly do.

I know how much you love Koolulam and today I give you a truly beautiful rendition of Madonna’s Like a Prayer dedicated to the hostages. Sung by people who care, from around the world.

I hope and pray that I can write tomorrow and tell you that at least some of the hostages have come out alive and maybe, just maybe, that they are whole.

With love, as always