Entering Rafah: War on Hamas Reaches Critical Point


See our “Dispelling Falsehoods, Stating Facts” section to help address difficult questions about the conflict.

The murderous 10/7 terrorist attack was executed with ruthless precision, designed to maximize casualties, kidnap civilians – including children – and instill fear in the Israeli population. In response to this horrifying act of terrorism, the Israeli Defense Forces launched an operation to rescue the Israeli hostages and destroy the Hamas military infrastructure. The city of Rafah is the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza and could be the key to ending this war.

Reuniting Families: ‘It’s a very sad pregnancy’

There are 134 hostages still in captivity in Gaza, including “a baby stolen from his crib. Seeing this young mother, clutching her babies, surrounded by a group of armed terrorists, is horrifying and heart-wrenching, but it is also a call for action, that we must bring the hostages home. Fast,” explained an IDF spokesman.

Shiri Bibas and her sons Ariel, 4, and baby Kfir, were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, 2023.

Since 10/7, 112 hostages have been released in an exchange for more than 100 Palestinian terrorist prisoners and 11 dead bodies have been recovered. Israeli forces at a Gaza hospital recently discovered unopened medications that were designated by name for delivery to hostages, a violation of an agreement between Israel and Qatar. There is evidence that hostages were held in that hospital. The IDF captured hundreds of Hamas terrorists hiding inside – including terrorists disguised as doctors.

Pregnant 28-year-old Michal Lobanov will be giving birth to a child while her husband Alexander is still held captive by Hamas. They have a two-year-old son, Tom, who is constantly asking, “Dad? Dad? Dad?” Michal spoke to the UK’s Daily Mail about her pregnancy: “It is not human to feel sad when you’re pregnant. It’s a very horrible thing to say, but that’s my life now. It’s a very sad pregnancy, very sad. But I love this kid and I want him, and Alex wants him, so it doesn’t matter if it’s sad or not. I still need him to come back and pick a name.”

“Come back dad” is written on the pregnant belly of Michal Lobanov, 28. Her 32-year-old husband, Alexander, is still held in captivity by Hamas. They have a two-year-old son, Tom. (Screenshot on X from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Rafah: ‘Last bastion of Hamas’

The remaining 134 hostages – alive and dead – are believed to be in Rafah. It is the fourth largest and southern-most city in Gaza. The city straddles the border between Gaza and Egypt, and the border crossing is controlled by Egypt and Hamas. Israel’s prime minister describes the Gazan city as “the last bastion of Hamas control which Israel must dismantle to achieve its goals in this war. Those who want to prevent us from operating in Rafah are essentially telling us: ‘Lose the war’.”

The IDF has targeted and degraded Hamas terrorist infrastructure and capabilities, including rocket launch sites, weapons storage facilities and command centers. These efforts have weakened the ability of Hamas to carry out attacks against Israel and have helped to protect Israeli civilians. However, Hamas remains a threat and continues to pose a significant security challenge to the Jewish state.

Israel’s defense minister notes that “there were 24 regional Hamas battalions in Gaza – we have dismantled 18 of them.” Israel will continue to target Hamas and minimize civilian casualties. Hamas has always made life miserable in Gaza – diverting critical resources and humanitarian aid away from its citizens.

The ideology of Hamas and Palestinian incitement are a persistent threat. Israeli President Isaac Herzog recently shared with world leaders an anti-Jewish book written by a Hamas co-founder and former Palestinian Authority foreign minister. The End of the Jews “does not recognize the fact that there are Jews, hails the Holocaust and calls for nations to follow what the Nazis have done.”

The war with Hamas is only one battlefront Israel faces. Iran backs Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Hezbollah is escalating attacks on Israel’s northern towns and is threatening imminent escalation. The Houthis continue to wreak havoc on commercial cargo ships in the Red Sea. Israelis are in the fifth month of a tragic war for their survival. Now is a critical crossroad amid mounting international pressure.

An anti-Jewish book, The End of The Jews, found in Gaza written by a Hamas co-founder and former PA foreign minister. (Israel’s Government Press Office)

Unrealistic Ceasefire Terms

Israel has inflicted severe damage to the capabilities of Hamas in Gaza. The significant impact to the terrorist group’s ability to attack Israelis could have forced Hamas to reassess its strategy, but the Iran-backed group remains undeterred.

Israel faces unrelenting international demands for a ceasefire – including a call by President Biden for a six-week pause – but these demands are largely one-sided and rarely mention the refusals of Hamas leaders to release hostages and disarm. The significant impact to the terrorist group’s ability to attack Israelis could have forced Hamas to reassess its strategy, but the Iran-backed group remains undeterred. The U.S. used its veto on Feb. 20 to block a binding United Nations Security Council resolution for an immediate end to the war and without the release of hostages by Hamas.

Hamas leaders are demanding to remain in power, for Israel to completely withdraw from Gaza and for Israel to release hundreds of convicted terrorists – including cold-blooded murderers. Israel released 1,027 Palestinian terrorists – 280 sentenced to life terms – in 2011 in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas seized Shalit in a cross-border raid via a terrorist tunnel in 2006. One of the released terrorists serving a life sentence was Yahya Sinwar, the current Hamas leader in Gaza.

The Hamas wish list of convicted terrorist masterminds includes those responsible for: the 10/7 massacre; Passover massacre at the Park Hotel in 2002 by a suicide bomber during a seder, killing 30 and injuring 140; 2002 Hebrew Univ. bombing that killed nine, including five Americans; 2003 Sbarro pizzeria suicide bombing that killed 16 and wounded 130; and the assassination of Israel’s tourism minister in 2001. Israel’s prime minister called the Hamas demands “delusional.”

Hamas is demanding the release of the terrorists who carried out the 10/7 atrocities and the masterminds of the most horrific suicide bombings against Israelis – including the Passover Massacre – in exchange for the Israeli hostages.


1. Israelis are determined to bring the hostages home

In the face of adversity, the resilience and determination of the Israeli people in bringing their hostages home is nothing short of extraordinary. The commitment to rescuing their fellow citizens is deeply ingrained in Israeli culture, although sometimes this conflicts with the government’s goal of attacking Hamas terrorists. Israelis have time and again demonstrated their willingness to go to great lengths to secure the release of their loved ones. This unwavering commitment to their fellow citizens underscores the deep sense of community, solidarity and courage that exists within Israeli society.

2.  Israel takes care to minimize Gaza casualties

The IDF is being recognized for taking “extraordinary measures” to achieve its objectives while ensuring the safety of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire. Israel goes to great lengths to provide advance warnings to Palestinians – including phone calls, text messages and dropping thousands of leaflets – before military operations in civilian areas. Israel also is allowing tons of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza to assist civilians affected by the conflict. Hamas diverts much of the supplies intended for its civilians to its own fighters. In desperation to maintain its grip on power and continue its reign of terror, Hamas deliberately places Palestinian civilians in harm’s way and launches attacks from civilian neighborhoods.

3.  Hamas makes outrageous demands – blocking a ceasefire

The Hamas refusal to cease hostilities and meet any of Israel’s terms demonstrates the terror group’s commitment to its extremist ideology and its desire to prolong this deadly conflict. Negotiations have broken down multiple times because of Hamas ultimatums, including Israel’s withdrawal. If Israelis accepted these terms, Hamas would simply rearm itself for its next attack on the Jewish state. Israel – or any country – should not tolerate threats to its very existence and must take decisive action to protect its citizens and ensure their safety. Hamas must recognize that its actions have consequences and that Israel will not back down in the face of terror.

4. Hamas is part of Iran’s nucleus of terror

Iran has openly declared its support for Hamas and its goal of destroying the Jewish state. The Islamic Republic has provided significant financial and material support to Hamas, enabling terrorists to launch numerous attacks against Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings, rocket attacks and kidnappings. These terrorist attacks have caused immense suffering and loss of life among Israelis, including innocent women and children. Iran openly coordinates with its terrorist proxies that directly attack Israel, which also cause regional instability and violence. This makes Hamas a significant threat to Israel’s security and the safety of its people.



Dispelling Falsehoods, Stating Facts

You might hear: Israel has been illegally blockading Gaza.

REALITY: Just like every other country, Israelis are allowed to decide who and what can enter Israel. The IDF is allowed to take security precautions against allowing weapons to enter Gaza by land, air or sea. Before the 10/7 attacks, thousands of Palestinians worked in Israel. Unfortunately, some took advantage of this to provide detailed maps of the Israeli border communities that Hamas terrorists used on Oct. 7. Anti-Israel critics routinely ignore Egypt’s border crossing with Gaza when making false accusations against Israel. Egyptian leaders allowed thousands of Palestinians to cross into its territory to travel abroad but also maintained tight security controls. Now, Egypt is fortifying its border with Gaza amid a report of profiting amid corruption allegations at its border crossing.



You might hear: Gaza is a concentration camp.

REALITY: The pro-Hamas, anti-Israel crowd has been berating Israel for years with false accusations of ‘genocide,’ ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘apartheid.’ The world was told that Gaza was a terrible place to live. Now, Palestinian influencers in Gaza post videos and pictures that show the outright lie that Gaza was a ‘prison.’



You might hear: Zionism and Israel are the reason why anti-Jewish hatred exists.

REALITY: Hatred of Jews existed for thousands of years before the re-establishment of a national Jewish homeland. Antisemitism is said to be the world’s oldest hatred. Israel’s existence allows anti-Jewish bigots to substitute Zionists and Israelis for Jews to give the appearance that they are merely against Israel, when in reality they hate Jews.


Learn how to respond to criticisms targeting Israel

Supporters of Israel are on the front lines of a massive PR war. Read about the key terms in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and familiarize yourself with the history, current events and culture of Israelis, the Palestinians and the Middle East. Each newsletter’s background section and talking points provide an educational opportunity. It also is important to read a variety of viewpoints from American and Israeli news sites. Here are additional helpful resources:


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Photos in the News

Israeli Swimmer Wins Silver at World Championships in Qatar Amid Boos, Dedicates Medal to Hostage Friend

Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko won a silver medal at the World Aquatics Championships at Doha, Qatar – and was booed. Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Qatar, a country known for sponsoring Al Jazeera and allowing Hamas leaders to live freely.

The 20-year-old will be competing in her second Olympic Games this summer and is a threat to win Israel’s first Olympic swimming medal. Antastasia dedicated her performance to her friend Matan Angrest who is being held hostage by Hamas.

Antastasia described her experience of winning a prestigious medal in the 400-meter individual medley: “I want to say thank you to everyone who watched and cheered from Israel, I know that many of you were under stress, like all of us. I am very, very happy to have won this medal in Qatar with the Israeli flag draped on me.

It’s very exciting, an honor for the country and even more so on the soil of Qatar. I hope that I opened many doors for those who will come after me. Breaking a glass ceiling like this is important for Israeli swimming and proves that even someone from a small country like Israel you can do anything.”

Israeli Olympic swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko wins a silver medal at the World Championships in Qatar. (Israel Swimming Federation)



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