Special Briefing Day 169: Education Secretary Gillian Keegan joins over 60 schools on a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

By March 23 2024, 20:06 Latest News No Comments

Note to reader: We wanted to give you a trigger warning on what you may read below. We have chosen, as with every night of these briefings, to not share horrific images, however we want to alert you as sensitively as we can to the reports coming out of Israel and Gaza.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Gillian Keegan on X)

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan joins over 60 schools on a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan joined hundreds of students from over 60 schools across the West Midlands on the trip to the former Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau this week, calling the experience “deeply moving and troubling” and “something you have to experience first hand”.

“Obviously there’s the discussions about the use of the word genocide, but clearly this is not comparable… anyone who sees the systematic design and build of death camps, and concentration camps with gas chambers, this is a very different thing”, she added.

Former Attorney General: Studies show Hamas casualty figures are “statistically impossible and obviously fraudulent”

Former Attorney General Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Ellis KC MP raised the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania’s latest analysis of Hamas’ casualty figures on Thursday, which calculated that they are “statistically impossible and obviously fraudulent”.

Education Minister: University antisemitism “needs to be stamped out”

Education Minister Robert Halfon condemned antisemitism at UK universities in Parliament this week, writing on X that “antisemitism at Universities is horrific and needs to be stamped out. I welcome the Government allocating £7 million to address antisemitism in education setting, including Universities, which will help protect Jewish students”.

Women and Equalities Minister: Government “appalled by reports of sexual violence since 7 October”

Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said, “this Government are appalled by reports of sexual violence since 7 October in Israel and Gaza”, and highlighted that “many hostages, both male and female, have still not been released, and they face the daily threat of rape, sexual assault and violence”, in Women and Equalities Questions session on Wednesday. “Across Government, we have been meeting with their families”, she added.

CFI Parliamentary Officer Nicola Richards MP said that, “a United Nations report recently confirmed that sexual violence was used against Israeli women on 7 October”.

She added that, “women did not feel that they could trust the UN enough to speak about their experiences”.

Threat of Iran raised in House of Commons

Rt. Hon. Sir Jeremy Quin MP told the House of Commons that “Iran and its proxies are destabilising the Middle East, and, via the Houthis, pose a constant threat to shipping through the Red Sea”, on Thursday during an Armed Forces Readiness and Defence Equipment debate.

Rt. Hon. Mark Francois MP said that “in a world with increasing Iranian-inspired violence”, there is concern that “brutal dictators with powerful weapons at their disposal are on the rise”.

170 gunmen killed in firefights at Shifa Hospital, senior Hamas officials among some 800 arrested

Around 170 gunmen were killed in firefights with the IDF at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital. The IDF arrested around 800 terror suspects during the operations there, including “very senior” Hamas officials.

IDF spokesman Rear. Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a briefing on Thursday evening that, “we [have] captured the higher echelon of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders”.

Senior Hamas officials whom the IDF captured include Nablus Terror Head Amad Atzida; Hamdala Hassan Ali, who has managed much of the terror activity in Qalqilya in the West Bank and Mahmoud Kawasme, the terrorist conspirer connected to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in 2014 – an event that precipitated a major conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Senior Islamic Jihad officials were also captured by the IDF, including its Gaza City Intelligence Surveillance-Lookout Chief Husam Salame and Information Warfare Head Wasem Salame.

The IDF said that all of the Islamic Jihad operatives quickly surrendered. Hamas’ forces were split into two groups during the operation.

If Hamas operatives continue to attack, the Shifa operation could be prolonged for several additional days, the IDF have warned. The IDF estimates an additional 50 Hamas fighters remain, of which 20 may have significant military roles.

An operation in Rafah, southern Gaza also killed five Hamas senior officials who ran Hamas’ Rafah Bureau over the past week, the IDF reported Wednesday.

Additionally, rocket launches from northern Gaza were launched toward Sderot and intercepted by the IDF on Friday.

A few minutes after detection, the IDF and Israeli air force carried out a joint aircraft and artillery strike on the launcher, destroying it.

Palestinian support for Hamas’s 7 October attack rose to 71 percent this month

A recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) found that 71% of Palestinians believe Hamas’ decision to launch an offensive against Israel on 7 October was “correct”.

This is an increase from 57% in December when Palestinians living in Hamas-ruled Gaza were last polled. Among those living in the West Bank, support dropped from 82% in December to 71% in March.

It is believed by both Palestinians who saw Hamas’ 7 October videos and those who did not, that Hamas did not commit atrocities in an overwhelming majority. 81% of those who watched and 97% of those who did not watch said they did not believe Hamas committed any atrocities.

The poll found that 70% of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are “satisfied” with Hamas’ actions during the war.

Over 60% are satisfied with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s performance during the war.

63% of Palestinians prefer a “day after” scenario in which Hamas remains in control of Gaza, rather than the Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank.

Israel’s recent facilitation of aid to the Gaza Strip (COGAT on X)

Released hostage Sapir Cohen recounts Hamas torture

“Innocent civilians who supported the terrorists kicked and punched me mercilessly, without stopping. And I couldn’t help but protect my head with my hands, invoking God’s name so that he wouldn’t let me die at that moment”, Sapir Cohen, 29, said. 

“Terror broke out, accompanied by the screams Allahu Akbar! We heard the shots and the cries of desperation of those who were forced to witness that massacre. Of those who saw their loved one massacred by bullets. And at a certain point the door of the house was torn off”, Cohen said.

Cohen was kidnapped from the Kibbutz in Nir Oz on 7 October. She witnessed her boyfriend, Sasha Troufanov, “beaten bloody and thrown face-first into the ground”. 

Sasha Troufanov is still held hostage in Gaza. His mother and grandmother, Yelena Troufanov and Irena Tati, were also taken hostage, but have since been released.

Cohen’s captors tried to convince her that Israel had forgotten about her, and that it does not care about the hostages.

Ofir Engel, a released hostage in Hamas captivity for 54 days, said, “we were constantly kept in apartments with terrorists who threatened that we will die in Gaza, and that our families don’t care about us”.

Over 134 hostages remain in Gaza.

Iran-backed terror proxies continue to mobilise in the region 

Iran’s Tasnim news said the “Islamic Resistance of Iraq announced that in support of the people of Gaza…it targeted the power plant of the Zionist regime in ‘Tel Aviv’ with a drone early this morning, Thursday”.

The report included an image of an explosive-laden kamikaze drone. Iran has exported the Shahed 136 kamikaze drone to Yemen and Russia, which have a range of up to 2,000 km.

Chief negotiator for the Iran-backed Houthi terror group, Mohammed Abdulsalam, has said that China and Russia can sail through the Red Sea unprovoked by the Houthis. 

The EU is carrying out a naval mission, APSIDES, in the southern Red Sea in order to protect merchant ships from the Houthis. In doing so, European warships destroyed three ballistic missiles and a Houthi seaborne drone on Thursday. 

Terror attacks rise in the West Back since the start of Ramadan

A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at an Israeli minibus near the settlement of Dolev this morning, and wounded at least seven people — one in critical condition and two in serious condition.

“The terrorist attack this morning is another painful reminder of the war being waged against Israel since October 7”, Israel’s Finance Minister and Transportation Minister said in a joint statement. 

According to media reports, the terrorist was killed in a strike.

IDF troops came under fire several times throughout the morning in pursuit of the terrorist. An attack helicopter and drones were deployed in the IDF’s search for the terrorist.

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