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Sarah: Good morning to those in the United States and good evening to those in Israel. This is day 82 of a long, difficult slog for Israel. As you know, all of this was precipitated by the barbaric attacks of October 7th. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined the objectives of this war as 1) ridding Gaza of Hamas and 2) freeing of the hostages. Unfortunately, as of today, 161 beautiful Israeli IDF soldiers have perished in this war. There are still 192 hostages living in captivity and not able to return to the State of Israel.

We are honored today to speak with Brigadier General Amir Avivi, the founder of the Israel’s Defense and Security Forum (IDSF) or Habithonistim. IDSF is a wonderful classically Zionist organization. General Avivi will discuss the situation on all fronts in Israel and will address the role of Iran in coordinating this chaos. During his many years of service in the IDF, General Avivi held a series of senior roles including Deputy Controller of the Security Forces, Director of the Office of the Chief of Staff, Deputy Commander of the Gaza Division, Commander of the Sagi Division, Commander of Battalion 605, and Commander of the School of Combat Engineering. He is providing an amazing service for the State of Israel with Habithonistim and IDSF and is sought-after by Israeli media including television, radio and print outlets.

It is my honor and pleasure to interview Amir Avivi today. Amir, how would you say the war effort is going? Can Israel achieve the dual objectives of ridding Gaza of Hamas and of freeing the remaining hostages?

Amir: The answer is definitely yes. Israel can win and can win decisively. The ground incursion started in the northern part of Gaza and the IDF has basically taken control there. It is a complicated area and includes the city of Gaza and the big, well-known refugee camps like Jabalia, Shuja’iyya and Zeitoun. The IDF has conducted fierce fighting and managed to seize control although there is still some fighting in small places. The Hamas battalions and brigades in the northern part of Gaza have now been destroyed and are no longer functioning. This does not mean there are zero terrorists in the area. There are terrorists spread out in tunnels and other different places, but they are not functioning as an organized army. When conducting an attack, one typically destroys the main force first and then cleans up the area. This can take a long time.

So, we have dealt with the northern part of Gaza, and we have shown we are able to completely destroy Hamas capabilities in a given area. The IDF has now extended its attack to the south of Gaza, to the city of Khan Yunis. Khan Yunis is essentially the second stronghold of Hamas. We completely destroyed Hamas’ major headquarters in Rimal, Gaza City, in the North. Now all the leaders of Hamas are in Khan Yunis. The IDF has surrounded this area and is attacking it. The fighting is very fierce because we are closing on the leadership of Hamas. In the coming few weeks we may engage with the leadership of Hamas and destroy them. This will be a defining and meaningful moment.

Two days ago, the IDF launched a major attack on the central camps of Gaza. This area is a big part of Gaza and includes refugee camps like Nuseirat and Bureij. An entire division is attacking these central camps. So basically, we have a division controlling the northern part, a division attacking the central camps of Gaza, and a division with many brigades attacking Khan Yunis. These three efforts in the coming weeks, should bring Hamas to its knees and destroy it as a governmental and military entity. Again, this does not mean that it will not take a long time to clean up the Gaza Strip after the major military missions have been accomplished.

At this time, most Palestinian civilians are in Rafah and in the coastal area where Gush Katif was. We do not have control over Rafah and the Rafah Crossing. However, we are attacking almost the whole of Gaza on the ground and destroying the battalions of Hamas. At the end of the day, this will bring Hamas on its knees and hopefully also destroy its leadership. At the same time, we are hoping to reach the hostages and to release them.

It is complicated and difficult, but the army is doing everything possible to find the hostages and bring them back. We assume they are all in Gaza. So, once we control Gaza, we should be able to access and liberate them. I am not exactly sure how long it will take for us to take control over the Gaza Strip but I expect it will take around a month or a month and a half. Once we have destroyed the major capabilities of Hamas, we will continue cleaning the area and dismantling their remaining terror infrastructure. After that, the IDF’s entire capabilities will be moved to the North to deal with Hezbollah.

Sarah: You mentioned Gush Katif. We remember the Hitnatkut, the complete removal of Jewish life from Gaza in 2005. How seriously would any Israeli take proposals of land for peace right now? How popular would that idea be now after October 7th? Do you think they have learned the lessons from the withdrawal from Gaza?

Amir: How popular would it be to suggest going back to Gush Katif?

Sarah: Or to suggest the creation of a Palestinian state, to withdraw from parts of Judea and Samaria or the West Bank?

Amir: I think suggestions such as those would be very unpopular. Overall, I think there are three theoretical models of existence or non-existence that we need to understand. The first is what we will call the separation model. According to this model, we live completely separately from the Palestinians. This is what we implemented in Gaza and it was a huge failure. Had we applied this approach in the mountains of Judea and Samaria, Israel would have basically ceased to exist. Hamas would have had 17 years to build a similar infrastructure to that of Gaza in the mountains, above the coastal area of Israel and they would have defeated the IDF. We would have needed 20 IDFs to win in a situation like that. So, the separation model is not a viable option. It creates a reality where the other side can grow its military capabilities exponentially to the point that we might not be able to defeat them.

Another option being advanced by some people is the option of military control. Since disengagement is not really viable, people are suggesting we place the Israeli military in the Jordan Valley, and in some other places and this will obviate the need for Jewish towns. This kind of thinking was applied in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Lebanon and failed miserably. It failed miserably for two reasons. Firstly, it is not legitimate long-term, to control a place militarily when the citizens are not your own. You cannot station an Army on a permanent basis in a place which is supposedly not yours. Secondly, without the substantial presence of your own citizens living in an area, a phenomenon develops like the one we saw in Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Lebanon. The Army is forced to barricade itself within its bases for safety. It must then rely on armed convoys to move from one place to the other. This is because of threats of improvised explosive devices and attacks from the population. The American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered thousands of casualties from attacks on these convoys. The same happened in South Lebanon. At the end of the day, the result was a retreat from all of these places. As such, if somebody suggests military control as a solution in the Jordan Valley or in the cities, ask for how long? If there are no specific plans in place to address that question, you go back to stage one, separation. As we discussed, the separation model is basically calling for the destruction of Israel.

We understand that if we do not want to allow the recreation of a terror army in Gaza “the day after”, we need to control the Egyptian border. We also need full freedom of operation for the IDF forever. If we withdraw, then we go back to separation. Unless there is massive voluntary immigration from Gaza, we need to remain there. I am thinking that if we place army forces on the Egyptian border, we will have full freedom of operation. This might work for 5, 10 or 15 years. Without Jewish towns however, there will come a day when the world will ask why we are keeping our military in the area. This may result in our having to retreat and we will be back to square one, separation, with a terror army on the other side. Given the options, the only viable way for us to exist in the land of Israel is via a massive presence of Jews, both in Israel and along all of our borders.

Gush Katif was not built by the right. It was not built by religious Zionists. It was built by the left for security reasons. They understood that we had to control the Egyptian border, similar to when we were in the Sinai Peninsula. The reason they built Yamit and all the towns bordering Gaza on the Sinai Peninsula side, was to detach Gaza from the Sinai Peninsula. They understood that upheavals in Gaza could have resulted in our losing control in the Sinai Peninsula. This illustrates there is a deep connection between our national security needs and the overall aspiration of our people to settle the land and live in the land.

In the Gaza operation two and a half years ago, the road between Beersheba and Dimona was closed for three days. As a result, the Army was unable to bring munitions to the most important air force base, Nevatim. Nevatim is located exactly in the middle of this road. The reason the Army was not able to reach Nevatim is because we do not have Jewish towns along the road in the Negev. This is not even about Judea and Samaria or Gaza. The same goes for the Galilee.

When interviewed by newspapers, a retired Israeli logistic general noted that in a war Israel would not be able to go through one of the two roads from the center of Israel to reach the North. He is saying one of the only two possible roads the IDF can use as it moves north to fight Hezbollah, is not usable. This road is not in Damascus or in Judea and Samaria, it is in the Galilee. The problem is that there are no Jewish towns only along that road. There is a huge connection between our security and where Jewish towns are situated in the land of Israel including in the Negev, the Galilee, in Judea and Samaria, and maybe in Gaza. This is something that we have to understand and look at strategically for the long term.

Sarah: You are a secular Zionist. You do not walk around with a Kippah on your head and yet you are attached to the land of Israel. There are many intellectuals in the United States, who compare and equate the Israelis and Hamas. However, the Israeli attachment to the land and need for defensible borders is not comparable to the religious zealotry and barbarism of Hamas. Can you disabuse them? They feel that the Palestinian attachment to the land is fundamental and if Israel would just give up the land, that there would be two states living side by side in peace and security. Can you please disabuse them of their illusions?

Amir: Yeah. I think the only land Muslims are attached to is the land of Berlin. They all seem to be immigrating there from the Middle East and Africa. I do not know what attachment they are referring to. The Jews are attached to their land. I do not know about the Palestinians. We have seen massive immigration from Gaza. 300,000 people left Gaza over the past decade. Every survey completed in Gaza before the war, indicated that 60% to 70% of the people wanted to immigrate. I am sure the current turmoil will also serve as a huge motivation for Gazans to immigrate. Overall, the Israeli-Arab conflict is a religious war. People think it is about land but it is about beliefs and ideology. Hamas is a very radical, ideological organization devoted to the destruction of Jews, not only Israelis. Their education has led them to barbaric behavior.

Sarah: You spoke about the North. Today there have been 18 attacks from Hezbollah in the North. How well has UN Security Council Resolution 1701 worked? What kind of independence do the Lebanese Armed Forces have from Hezbollah? What kind of independence does the UN force (UNIFIL) have from Hezbollah? Could you just give us an overview and what you think it would take to make the Israelis from the North feel secure to return to their homes.

Amir: As you mentioned, The Lebanese Army, UNIFIL and Hezbollah are the three major players in the North. Hezbollah dominates all of them. They did not adhere to anything in Security Council Resolution 1701. Resolution 1701 calls for the full withdrawal of Hezbollah to the north of the Litani River. Hezbollah’s forces are deep in the south of Lebanon. They are on the Israeli border. UNIFIL and the Lebanese army are not doing anything about it. There is a big question as to whether the international community will be able to implement the Resolution and force Hezbollah to retreat. The international community is attempting to force this retreat to avoid a big war in the North with potential escalations. We are facing a reality where we have two choices. We can go to war in Lebanon and destroy Hezbollah forces militarily or we can pressure the international community to really manage and implement Resolution 1701. I would say there is about a 50% chance of a war in Lebanon and 50% chance that there will be a successful implementation of Resolution 1701. I tend to think that there will be a war, but we will see what happens.

There is an option to try before dealing with the situation in the North. We could complete the peace agreement with Saudi Arabia and build an international coalition. However, this requires American leadership. This requires America to be willing to lead a coalition which will pose a credible military threat not only to Hezbollah but to the Houthis, the militias in Iraq and to Iran as well.

Sarah: As you know, President Biden has put together an international coalition to combat the Houthis rebels in the Red Sea. Do you think they are actually willing to use force against the Houthis?

Amir: Yeah. Over the past two years, I have spoken and written a lot about Iran’s strategic goal of controlling the straits in the Middle East and beyond. Iran is aspiring to control the Straits of Hormuz and Bab-al-Mandab, as well as the Strait of Gibraltar. I wrote a lot about Gibraltar and the Iranian attempt to take over Morocco and weaponize the Polisario Front. I did hear many people talking about that and last week Iran threatened to close Gibraltar. If Iran becomes nuclear, or if its aggression is not met with serious military threats or power, they will disrupt trade world-wide. It is not sufficient to accompany trading ships. The Houthis, and others, need to be dealt with militarily. As an example, I think one attack, such as the sinking of an Iranian naval vessel, might be a good response to what they are doing. There are many ways to send the clear message to Iran that if they continue on this path, they will be destroyed. We can do it by sinking some ships or via other means but the Americans need to decide what they want to do.

Sarah: It seems like the Houthi Rebels are trying to close the waterways and Iran is pulling the strings. Iran is certainly influencing the situation in the North. We know that Iran, or Hezbollah, has at least 150,000 Missiles, some of which have been converted into precision guided munitions. I think their capabilities are much more sophisticated than those of Hamas and they might be able to attack critical Israeli infrastructure like the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the coastal plain where most Israelis live, the hospitals or the electric grid. Is Israel prepared to actually go to war against Hezbollah in the north and do they have sufficient defense systems?

Amir: So yes, the threat from the North is on a whole different level and poses a much bigger danger to Israel’s infrastructure. We have to differentiate between rockets and missiles. Hezbollah has many, many rockets which are easier to deal with than guided missiles. They also have around a thousand precise, guided missiles. Guided missiles are more complicated to deal with even if our defense systems excel at what they do. The North is a completely different reality from the South and there will be buildings, and other places that will be hit. This is why the whole approach to fighting Hezbollah is very different from fighting Hamas. It requires very, very fast maneuvering and targeting of Lebanon itself. We cannot agree to separate Hezbollah and Lebanon. If they shoot Tel Aviv, we have to destroy the entire infrastructure in Beirut.

We have to create a reality where all the different forces in Lebanon understand that Hezbollah will destroy them as a state, and they need to fight Hezbollah. We need the Jews, Christians, and the Sunnis to unite in wanting to get rid of Hezbollah because of the devastation a war with Hezbollah will bring to Lebanon. We cannot just fight directly with Hezbollah. We have to deal with Lebanon.

Sarah: During this war, we are seeing that many of the Sunni Arab nations, including those who joined the Abraham Accords, are fair-weather friends. The Christians in Lebanon are a minority, or are behaving like a minority, within the mosaic of different factions in Lebanon. Would they have the moral clarity and resolve to support some sort of attack on Lebanon?

Amir: There is a lot of tension in Lebanon between the forces that oppose Iran and Iranian Hezbollah and those that support them. If the Lebanese forces feel that Hezbollah is weak enough, they might be emboldened to attack them. However, we do not know for sure and it is very hard to say what would happen. We cannot build on that. We need to deal with the threats from Hezbollah ourselves.

Sarah: Right. I know that there are reports that this administration would like to resurrect the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza with perhaps someone other than Abu Mazen in charge. More than 90% of the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria do not support Abu Mazen. What do you have to say to that?

Amir: The PA is a corrupt, terrorist, terrible organization. The corruption is so deeply rooted in its culture that I do not see any way to reform it and it needs to go. If someone wants to build a different leadership for the Palestinians, they need to do it via a different organization with different leaders. It cannot be via this very corrupt organization which the Palestinians themselves detest. Only 5% of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria support the PA and they want them gone. Why are we trying to perpetuate an organization that the Palestinians themselves hate? The only chance to conduct effective negotiations with Palestinians is through their local leadership, through the clans. We should be working with the heads of the families in the cities and not with the PA.

Sarah: What has been the response of the Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria to the October 7th attacks? What is the level of violence coming from Palestinians communities in Judea and Samaria right now?

Amir: At the moment, the level of terror in Judea and Samaria has decreased dramatically. The IDF had been operating cautiously in Judea and Samaria for a long time. Previously, we were afraid that if we did something too serious in Judea and Samaria we would get shot at from Gaza. Now that we are destroying Hamas in Gaza, however, we have a much greater freedom of operation in Judea and Samaria and we are constantly attacking and apprehending terrorists. We have apprehended more than 2,500 terrorists in the last two months, half of whom belong to Hamas. We are destroying military terror capabilities in the Palestinian cities every day and this is ongoing. There are elements of course that want to launch attacks and act against Israel but they are under constant IDF attack. I hope the situation continues in this way because we have managed to decrease the number of attacks significantly.

Sarah: Just one final question before I turn it over to my colleague Joseph Epstein, who will be fielding questions from the audience. Are we playing a kind of whack-a-mole game with Hamas and with the PA? If we eradicate Hamas in Gaza, will the ideology remain and might they re-emerge under a different name? As long as the incitement and the education from their UNRWA schools remains, are they going to just feed on resentment and pass this on to the next generation?

Amir: At the moment we are dealing with capabilities and not with intentions. We are destroying them and it does not matter what they think. In the long term, however, we definitely need to think about fundamental changes to their education system. To achieve this objective, we need to eliminate the elements that are radicalizing society and doing it successfully is challenging. However, it has been done pretty well in the United Emirates. It is being done today in Saudi Arabia and in a way that completely controls the books used for education and the messaging in the mosques. In UAE for example, there is a committee that writes exactly what is going to be said in the mosques every week. Every person speaking in a mosque has to say exactly what he is told and may not choose to radicalize his followers. If this deradicalization can be done successfully in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, maybe we should implement the same approach in Gaza.

Sarah: Thank you so much. And now I am happy to turn the podium over to my wonderful colleague, Joseph Epstein.

Joseph: Thank you so much, Sarah. Thank you, General Avivi, for being here. We have talked a lot about how infeasible it is for PA to govern Gaza. This is especially true given how unpopular they are in Judea and Samaria. Bibi Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has said multiple times he is completely against the PA governing. Even Yair Lapid, who is leading the opposition, said that nobody would consider having the PA govern Gaza. However, about a week ago, Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s National Security Advisor, wrote in the London based Saudi Outlet, Elaph, that Israel would be ready for PA governing Gaza if it was significantly reformed. The Biden administration also appears to support PA governance in Gaza going forward. Are there many voices in Israel calling for a reformed PA governing Gaza? Is Israel really ready for it, and do you think the PA can actually be reformed?

Amir: 95% of Israeli society opposes having the PA govern Gaza. Any politician who tries to promote that idea will be done.

Joseph: Thank you. Right-now it seems Israelis, from both the right and left of the political spectrum, are united. They all agree we need to destroy Hamas completely, no matter what it takes. However, once we begin talking about what happens after Hamas is destroyed, I imagine we will see a variety of opinions. For example, if we decided to rebuild Gush Katif, I think we might start to see some divergent opinions. We have not seen unity in Israel for a very long time. How does Israel maintain it?

Amir: I think that being united does not mean agreeing on everything. What matters is the way one discusses differences. Right-now, I think there is definitely a sense that the nation is united. There are elements, mostly from the radical left, but also from the right, who do not really support unity. However, most of Israeli society is united. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers are fighting together and risking their lives together every day. These soldiers are both religious and secular and come from different places from all over Israel including kibbutzim and cities. They are all fighting together. When they leave Gaza, and possibly Lebanon, they will demand a united society.

We need to create a very comprehensive, clear vision for Israel that the vast majority of Israel agrees upon. Since October 7th, there is a chance to build consensus on a vision for Israel. Obviously, there are elements in that vision that will need to be discussed and debated. I think, however, almost everybody in Israel understands that we have a common enemy and we are not each other’s enemy.

Joseph: From your perspective, what would that vision look like?

Amir: As I discussed, we should start by understanding that there are three possible models or options for the future. Separation, military control, and reinforcing Israeli security with Jewish towns. I think reinforcing Israeli security with Jewish towns is the only viable option. This is an option, or model, we need to explain clearly. We need to make it clear that the establishment of Jewish towns is necessary for national security and is not only for religious reasons.

We also need to build a society that combines three main things. The first is that everyone needs to serve. We need to mobilize our whole society to be able to deal with the dangers we face. In the event of a war, we need everybody. This is a strong message for all of Israeli society. We all need to serve our country. Together with the responsibility to serve, we need to cultivate Zionism and a connection to Israel.

A country of Maccabees, does not imply the country has to give up being happy. It does not imply an end to Israeli culture, music, trips, good life and high tech. The most important thing, however, is that we become more Jewish and more Zionist. We need to reconnect with our values. According to the Bible, humans are the center of creation and of the universe. At the same time, our eternal Jewish beliefs require us to live according to Jewish values. Many people try to convince us that we need to choose between being democratic and liberal, between being a warrior, or between studying the Bible all day. We do not need to choose. We have to combine all of them. We have to have a holistic approach about who we are as a nation and as a society.

Joseph: Thank you. I want to discuss more about the PA. After October 7th, it seemed many Israelis became aware that the status quo that we had with Gaza was not tenable and it was a mistake allowing it to remain that way for so long. That opinion is also reflected in the views of many in the national security establishment who are calling for the bombing of Hezbollah and Lebanon to prevent them from attacking. However, I have not heard many voices talk about the PA in Judea and Samaria. As you mentioned, the PA is incredibly unpopular there. Its leader is aging and his succession plan is unclear. The PA can barely control Jenin and other areas in Judea and Samaria. I understand the PA is important for security cooperation and for keeping the peace to a certain extent. However, it appears the PA is like a piece of glass or a knife is stuck in the back of Israel. While I understand one is not supposed to take that knife out oneself, it does not mean one should just let it stay there. It needs to be taken out surgically. My question is, are you seeing any Israelis talking about a plan for Judea and Samaria, or is it too early to discuss?

Amir: Proposed Israeli solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do not include the PA and emphasize Israel’s national security. I think Gaza will be the test case and will help determine what can be done in Judea and Samaria or the West bank. Israel is saying loudly and clearly there will be no Hamas, no Palestinian, Islamic Jihad and no PA in Gaza. As such, Israel needs to find another solution. Assuming Israel does define and implement a new and improved solution in Gaza, there will be an obvious question as to why we are not implementing a similar solution in Judea and Samaria.

Also, at the end of the day, Abu Mazen, almost 90 years old. It’s obvious that he is going to die sooner than later. Even if we are not proactive, the Palestinians will be. The day after Abu Mazen dies there will be a fight over succession. At that time, we might see Palestinian society collapsing even without Israel doing anything. This is something we have to take into account.

Joseph: Do you believe that when Abu Mazen dies there is a significant chance that the PA will collapse? As you mentioned, Abu Mazen is frail. Do you believe it is better to be proactive and have a controlled burn instead of a wildfire causing the complete collapse of the PA.

Amir: I am always in favor of being proactive. Two years ago, we presented a national security assessment which noted that war is imminent and we needed to prepare. We said, there can be only two ways to go, a six-day war scenario or a longer, more reactive scenario. Unfortunately, Israel chose the long scenario, which is pretty devastating. It is always better to be proactive in shaping your own future rather than waiting for things to happen.

Joseph: What is being proactive when it comes to Judea and Samaria?

Amir: Being proactive means engaging with local leadership of the clans and encouraging them to take control from the PA. Being proactive means building local leadership and building city states similar to local Emirates. It also means dismantling the terror infrastructure of the terror organizations in Judea and Samaria. We need to clean Judea and Samaria from terror and radicalism. We need to be proactive in this regard within Israeli-Arab society as well.

Joseph: Thank you. I would like to bring the discussion back to Gaza. Israel has stated that its goal is the destruction of Hamas in Gaza. What does that look like?

Amir: It looks like what we are doing, conquering the Gaza Strip. It is a ground incursion with physical engagement with terrorists. It is the destruction of the tunnel infrastructure, killing of Hamas leadership, killing of terrorists, seizure of all their weapons and destruction of their rocket launchers. It is a war. We need to conquer Gaza and then dismantle all terror capabilities. That is what we are doing at this time.

Joseph: There have been some voices in the Israeli community calling for resurrecting the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif. What are your thoughts on that?

Amir: I am happy about voices like that. I am happy they want to settle the land of Israel. I think that the timing is premature. Right-now, we really have to focus on the war and on destroying Hamas. It is not the time to really engage with this issue while soldiers are still fighting. Although the discussion is not relevant now, it is something to look at in the long term.

Joseph: President Biden, and his administration, have been increasingly critical of the Israeli strategy in Gaza. They appear to blame Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition for pushing him to employ a belligerent strategy. However, as we have discussed, it has really seemed like the whole nation of Israel is united when it comes to getting rid of the Hamas threat. Do you think that President Biden really realizes this? Is he saying what he is for political reasons?

Amir: The Prime Minister has had many phone calls with Biden. I am sure he explained to Biden very clearly that we cannot destroy Hamas without taking over the Gaza Strip. I think the Biden administration understands we need to take over Gaza to destroy Hamas. I think that the administration is attempting to deal with the humanitarian issue but it is doing it the wrong way. The only way to really ease the humanitarian issue is to open the Egyptian border and let the Gazan people out. 14 million Ukrainians left Ukraine. 11 million Syrians left Syria. When there is a war, people want to leave the war zone. The fact that Egypt is blocking the border and not letting them out, is outrageous. Unfortunately, nobody in the international community is doing anything about it. They are all talking about humanitarian issues and not doing anything to resolve the issues. They are insisting on bringing humanitarian aid into Gaza where Hamas takes it. The terrorists get it, this prolongs the war and endangers our soldiers. The whole situation is terrible but the current approach serves neither the war effort nor does it resolve the humanitarian issue.

Joseph: Do you think there’s a way to put pressure on Egypt, for them to take in refugees from Gaza?

Amir: I think this is what needs to be done. I think that if the US and Europe put on enough pressure, the Egyptians might capitulate on the issue. The international community can also offer money, solutions, and motivation to the Egyptians.

Joseph: Thank you. We have heard a lot about the failure of the International Red Cross to provide medicine to hostages or to check on them. There have been protests in Israel outside of the International Red Cross Centers. Why do you think we have seen such a disregard for Israeli life from this organization?

Amir: It is not only the Red Cross that has proven itself to be antisemitic. Women’s rights and other international organizations treat Israel and Jews completely differently from the way they treat anybody else. This is a huge problem. It is a problem, which makes Israelis and Jews around the world very, very angry. This is the harsh reality. We have to realize that.

Joseph: I know it is a bit too early to talk about what will happen the day after Hamas. However, we have heard a number of calls for an international solution including involving the UN, the US, the UAE, Egypt or maybe Jordan. In general, international organizations have been very unreliable when it comes to enforcing some sort of peace. We have seen this in southern Lebanon where UNIFIL is just completely powerless to stop Hezbollah from amassing troops on the border. Do you think Israel would be open to such solutions?

Amir: I think security and overall management must be Israeli. You can have international cooperation when you talk about money and about helping to build different education programs and other infrastructure related programs. We need to be very, very careful not to create a reality where we are not responsible for the security of our people. Israel has a responsibility to defend the Israeli people and they cannot give this mission to anybody else. We saw what happened on the 7th of October. It cannot happen again.

Joseph: Thank you. We discussed UNRWA earlier. UNRWA is a UN organization that is supported by many countries in the world. It seems to be one of the only organizations that provides free education to the Palestinians. How do we dismantle, or at least deradicalize it, so that it does not spread further incitement?

Amir: UNRWA needs to be dismantled completely. There is no reason why Palestinians need to be treated differently from any other human being on this globe. We do not need a dedicated organization for Palestinians. This is what creates all the problems in the first place. It is not about changing UNRWA, it is about closing it. It is about ending the phenomena that perpetuates an Arab refugee status from generation to generation. This situation does not exist anywhere else in the world.

Joseph: Thank you. So, how do we actually dismantle UNRWA?

Amir: We say, we will not have them anymore. Throw them out.

Joseph: I like that answer.

Amir: Kick them out of Gaza, that is it. Close the offices and kick them out.

Joseph: I completely agree with you on UNRWA. However, it seems there are many other organizations that have been acting against Israel’s interest as well. These organizations have been allowed to continue existing within Israel. One example is Al Jazeera, funded by the Qatari government. Al Jazeera has really been leading the international information war campaign against Israel. Why do you think Al Jazeera has not been shut down inside of Israel?

Amir: I think it should have been thrown out. There are many voices that are calling for it to be removed but I do not know why the government has not acted on that yet.

Sarah: Right. I really would like to thank you Brigadier General Amir Avivi, for your time-earned wisdom and knowledge about this situation. It is always a supreme pleasure to have you on. We would like to remind everybody to please support EMET in the waning days of 2023. All of these webinars cost us a tremendous amount of energy, effort, and expense. If you would like, please contribute at . As you know, we are on Capitol Hill almost every single day, educating members of Congress as well and writing as well.

Please also go to the IDSF website and support the wonderful work of Habithonistim, IDSF with wonderful representatives such as Brigadier General Amir Avivi.

Amir: Thank you very much guys. Bye-bye

Sarah: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Joseph: Thank you. Bye.



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