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Israeli Consular Briefing Held in New Rochelle

Dr. Yuval Donio-Gideon, Israel’s Consul for Public Diplomacy, addressing the New Rochelle community on the situation with Hamas. (Credit: Michael Turek)

On October 17, Beth El Synagogue Center of New Rochelle’s “Israel 360” group hosted Dr. Yuval Donio-Gideon, Consul for Public Diplomacy at Israel’s Consulate in New York.

Recalling the past 10 days’ events, the consul told more than 200 attendees: “Nothing like that ever happened in our history. Not only was it the most terrible in Israeli history, but also one of the most heinous, horrific terror acts in modern human history. More than 1,000 Hamas jihadist raided Israel, towns, villages and kibbutzim and murdered, raped, and burned down houses, while documenting and broadcasting it.

“If this sounds familiar, it’s no coincidence. These are ISIS-inspired methods. On the bodies of some terrorists, we found ISIS and Al-Qaeda guidebooks. Hamas is ISIS in ideology, methods, and final purpose; one Islamic state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.”

Donio-Gideon continued: “The war is going to be long, hard and bitter. Make no mistake: We will prevail. We will win this war because we’re confident in the righteousness of our way. There’s no doubt who’s right and who’s wrong in this conflict. We’ll also win because of the great support we have … around the world.

“Hamas is a designated terror organization in the U.S., most European states and other democracies around the world,” Donio-Gideon explained. “Hamas is the de facto sovereign in Gaza since 2007. Hamas is accountable for everything: terror inflicted on Israelis and consequences for millions of Gaza’s Palestinians. Hamas puts terror and death ahead of the well-being of its own citizens.”

Donio-Gideon added: “We’re a responsible state. The first section of any unwritten contract between a decent state and its citizens is the right to security. You want to go to sleep knowing that you won’t wake up finding that barbarians from across the border have kidnapped your kids from bed. We have to ensure this privilege for the citizens of Israel.

“We intend to depose Hamas from power, destroy military capabilities, and remove the terrorist threat to Israelis from the Gaza Strip. We’re doing our utmost for the hostages being held by the jihadists.

“Hamas is an envoy of the Iranian ayatollah’s, regime, which declares every other month its purpose is to eradicate the State of Israel. Hamas has been getting support, financing, logistics and weapons from Iran, making Iran directly responsible for Hamas’ deeds, terror and capabilities. We aren’t currently directly at war against Iran, and hope it won’t be the case. But we remember who built, motivated and financed Hamas.”

Donio-Gideon described Iran’s greatest Middle East asset, Hezbollah, as holding quantities of rockets, estimated at 150,000, more than almost all other countries. “A terror organization kidnapped a state. Lebanon doesn’t function politically, economically and security-wise. Nothing happens without Hezbollah’s approval, like appointing presidents, signing international agreements and security at Israel’s borders. We very clearly don’t wish for full-scale conflict with Hezbollah, but if dragged in, there will be severe consequences.

“Hamas is knowingly and deliberately within civilian populations as human shields, making a double war crime by international law. Israel’s army takes precautionary measures to minimize damage done to the population. We contacted Palestinians in the areas we intend to attack, messaged them on social media, dropped pamphlets, broke into Hamas TV broadcasts and told them to go to the southern part of the Gaza Strip, at the expense of endangering our operational capabilities. Hamas said, ‘Don’t believe Israeli propaganda; it’s fake news.’ In some cases, we have testimony of Hamas forcefully preventing people from moving away, keeping them close under gun threats. That’s Hamas taking care of its own people.”

During the Q&A section, the consul was asked what meaningful steps the community can take to help. Donio-Gideon explained that the consulate is trying to coordinate efforts and match resources to Israel’s needs.

“Those who feel comfortable, I urge you to put an Israeli flag on your home or business and let people see your heart is with Israel,” he said. “It is meaningful. Make it public on social media, say you care and you’re confident about who’s right and who’s wrong in this conflict.”

On visiting Israel, he said, “Don’t let terror win. Don’t let terror take away our way of life, what we believe, what we stand for. Terrorism is about terrorizing us.”

Donio-Gideon acknowledged Israel’s intelligence failure. “There’s no doubt this was a major failure. The head of military intelligence said he was responsible; he failed.

“This isn’t the time to inquire. This is the time to defeat terrorists and release hostages. Any IDF intelligence officer in 50 years started training learning about the Yom Kippur intelligence failure in 1973. A lot will be investigated; we have a lot to learn.”

Showing their love and support for Israel, attendees sang Hatikvah at the close of the event.

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