Australia/Israel Review

Behind the News – May 2024

Apr 22, 2024 | AIJAC staff

Aid trucks entering Gaza (Image: X/ COGAT)
Aid trucks entering Gaza (Image: X/ COGAT)


Several rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on each of April 3-4, April 7-8 and April 13. All were either intercepted by Iron Dome or fell in open areas. Approximately 9,000 rockets have entered Israel from Gaza since October 7. 

On April 10, Israel killed three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, all of them Hamas operatives. On April 5, the IDF found and returned the body of Israel hostage Elad Katzir, murdered by PIJ in captivity. 

On April 13, the body of 14-year-old shepherd Binyamin Achimair was discovered in the West Bank. His murder by terrorists sparked settler riots through Palestinian villages in the area, resulting in at least one Palestinian death, several injuries and extensive property damage. 



On April 14, Iran launched approximately 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles at Israel, mostly from its own territory for the first time. The Iranians said the attack was in response to an Israeli strike in Syria that killed multiple senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers on April 1, including its commander in Syria, in a building next to Iran’s Damascus Embassy which Iran claimed was part of its diplomatic compound. 

Reports says approximately 50% of the ballistic missiles malfunctioned. 99% of the projectiles launched at Israel were intercepted by Israel or its partners. Some missiles hit Nevatim Airbase, causing light damage, and shrapnel injured a young Bedouin girl. 



An IDF commission led by retired IDF Major-General Yoav Har-Even has attributed the accidental killing in Gaza of seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen (WCK), including Australian Zomi Frankcom, in an Israeli drone strike on April 1, to a breakdown in communication and mistaken identification, as well as violations of IDF open-fire regulations. 

The commission found that the IDF unit which opened fire believed the aid workers had stayed with their aid trucks in a warehouse, and the cars driven out from the warehouse contained only Hamas operatives. The WCK markings on the vehicles could not be picked up by the drone’s infrared sensors during the night-time strike. Attempts by the Israelis and then WCK to contact the aid workers by phone were unsuccessful. 

IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi dismissed the two senior officers responsible for ordering the attack and formally reprimanded the brigade, division, and Southern Command commanders. The Military Advocate General is reportedly considering a criminal investigation.



On April 1, the IDF ended a two-week long operation at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, which saw intense firefights with terrorists barricaded in hospital buildings. In all, IDF forces killed or detained several senior commanders from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and killed 200 terrorist operatives and arrested 500 others in the hospital compound.

An IDF spokesperson said, “Hamas ruined and destroyed the Shifa Hospital after using it as a military headquarters – there are more terrorists in the hospital than patients or medical staff.” Captured PIJ and Hamas operatives reportedly admitted to using Gaza hospitals for terrorist activities because “they have internet and electricity 24/7,” and are considered “safe places”. 



On April 10, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to “flood” Gaza with a massive increase in aid, aiming to increase the number of aid trucks entering daily from about 200 to 500. He announced a five-part initiative, includes opening Ashdod port to increase entry of goods and streamline security checks (this subsequently began on April 17); opening up a new northern crossing (which subsequently opened on April 12) to provide aid directly to northern Gaza; increased aid entry from Jordan via two routes; establishing a coordination and deconfliction mechanism to work more closely with international organisations; and several other major projects, including working with the US on an artificial island for importing maritime aid.

There was a sharp increase in the rate of entry of aid trucks into Gaza in the week of April 7 to April 13, with 1,866 such trucks entering. 



Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu criticised the United States for abstaining on a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza on March 25, allowing it to pass. The US had vetoed previous ceasefire resolutions. While the resolution also demanded the immediate release of all Israeli hostages, it did not make the ceasefire conditional on hostage releases.

Meanwhile, Hamas has continued to reject US-mediated ceasefire offers. The latest proposal, presented on April 7, was for a six-week ceasefire in Gaza, with Hamas releasing 40 of the more than 100 hostages being held in Gaza in exchange for 900 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, and a return of many Gazans to northern Gaza. Hamas rejected the plan on April 10, and later proposed Israel should instead completely end the war and withdraw from Gaza before any hostages were released, and release between 30 and 50 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for each hostage. 

Hamas also denied it has 40 living hostages in the categories suggested in the proposal – women, children, men over 50 and individuals with chronic illnesses. 



News reports say Iranian agents are working to flood the West Bank with vast quantities of increasingly sophisticated arms, using criminal elements and militants to smuggle weapons from Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt’s Sinai desert.

In addition, an Iranian proxy in Iraq, the Hezbollah battalions, announced on April 6 that it is working to arm and prepare 12,000 fighters inside Jordan, while Teheran has been helping to fuel large demonstrations against Israel in Amman in recent weeks.



On April 16, two Hezbollah drones exploded in Israel’s north, lightly wounding two people, and an Israeli drone killed Hezbollah Coastal Region Commander Ismail Yousef Baz. On April 17, a Hezbollah drone wounded 14 soldiers and 4 civilians. Hezbollah launched 40 rockets and two drones into Israel on April 13 and 14. On March 29, Israel killed Ali Abed Akhsan Naim, the deputy commander of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile unit, while two commanders of the elite Radwan force were killed on March 30 and April 8. 

More than 3,000 projectiles have been fired at Israel from Lebanon since October 7. Hezbollah has suffered approximately 300 casualties while seven Israeli civilians and 11 soldiers have been killed in the exchanges.



In early April, Turkey, which has openly backed Hamas throughout the recent Gaza war, announced restrictions on the export to Israel of 54 products, including many used in Israel’s construction industry. 

By contrast, reports say Indonesia has committed to eventual normalisation of relations with Israel. A letter from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General, former Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, informed Indonesia that if it wished to join that organisation, it would need to have diplomatic relations with all members, including Israel. Cormann informed Israel in late March that Indonesia has now pledged to do so before its ascension to the OECD is finalised in two to three years’ time. 


Stranger than Fiction


The Holy Land is often regarded as a place of ancient miracles but, as the strange story of Mustafa Ayyash shows, there are modern miracles as well.

On December 14, 2023, the UN Human Rights Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territories issued a press release condemning the number of journalists Israel was allegedly killing in Gaza. The sole example cited was Ayyash, described as the “founder and Director of the Gaza Now News Agency.” That agency is in reality a pro-Hamas propaganda front.

The UN Office must have been stunned to find out that following his tragic death, Ayyash was somehow resurrected. The fact he was already tweeting from beyond the grave should have been a hint, but the clincher came when he was arrested in Austria in late March on charges of funding Hamas, after having been named on a US Treasury counter-terrorism list.

Perhaps Hamas felt forced to develop the ability to bring its people back to life to compete with a nefarious Israeli scheme revealed on Hezbollah’s television channel Al-Manar on March 18.

Lebanese researcher Hani Suleiman explained that in 2000, the Jewish Agency supposedly collected babies abandoned in Brazil and flew plane loads of them to Tel Aviv each month so they could replenish the depleted numbers in the IDF.

He elaborated that Brazil is based on three phenomena – “football, drugs and illicit sexual relations.” The last resulted in unwanted babies, who were abandoned on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, he said. 

These are ironic claims to air on the media outlet of a terrorist group dependent on drug trafficking for much of its finances, including around Brazil.

Suleiman also claimed Israeli rabbis were up in arms because these children were not Jewish, but the army overruled them.


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