U.S. Army and Navy veteran Bryan Stern formed Project Dynamo, a donor-funded rescue operation during the botched American withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago. “We are completely saturated with requests” and are “fielding hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of requests from Americans who are stuck” as a result from the Hamas attacks on Israel.
Stern’s efforts to recover the Americans has been dubbed Operation: Promised Land. Stern is disappointed with the Biden administration, which he believes should be taking the lead on getting Americans out of harm’s way. “Project Dynamo shouldn’t be rescuing any American in any warzone, ever,” he said. But over the last few years, after engaging in rescue operations around the globe, including in Ukraine and in Sudan, Stern said, “We’ve learned that’s just not the case. It’s just not. That’s why we’re here.”
Stern said there are basically three “tranches” of Americans his team is looking at: hostages held by Hamas terrorists, which are the “most severe and hardest” cases; Americans trapped inside the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Palestinian-controlled territories; and Americans stuck in Israel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which will likely be the easier cases.
The Americans stuck between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are in the least danger. “Many of them are just scared and can’t get out of here. It’s a lot of fear,” Stern said.
Americans stranded inside the Palestinian territories — many of them humanitarian workers — are hiding, he said. “There’s one family that we’re working with where the father does stuff with water purification, and the wife is a teacher,” he said. People can request an evacuation from Israel at the Project Dynamo website, where they can also donate to the group. Stern called donor funding the “fuel of our operations.”
“The first rule of hostage negotiations is to take what you can when you can, which is a nice way of saying, easier is good. A life is a life is a life,” Stern said. “So, if it takes five hours to rescue 100 people or 20 hours to rescue one person, as a donor-funded nonprofit, and we’re small, I’d rather do more people.”
“That said, our specialty is hard cases in hard places,” he added.
National Review reports:
Stern said that, ideally, they’ll be able to fly the people they rescue out of Israel. The group has planes at its disposal if it can get the funding to pay for them — they believe they need to pay for at least three flights. They may also pull people out by boat or over the Jordan border.
“The catch is, the Jordanians are more or less allies of the United States,” he said, “but generally speaking don’t like Israel and generally speaking don’t like Jewish people.”
Stern said it is “naïve” to think that Hamas will keep those hostages in Gaza; they’ll likely be moved into Egypt or Lebanon, he said. While Hamas has threatened to kill hostages, Stern said they are valuable to the terrorists, noting the $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue the U.S. unfroze last month in exchange for Iran releasing five American prisoners.
“Let’s not forget, we just set the market rate for Americans to Iran, $1 billion a head,” Stern said. “And these are the same bad guys.”
Since its founding in 2021, Project Dynamo rescuers have operated in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Sudan. They’ve also rescued Americans who were trapped after wildfires ravaged Maui, Hawaii, earlier this year, and after Hurricane Ian enveloped Florida’s southwest coast last year.
Good Riddance to UNRWA as it Supports Hamas
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The head of UNRWA recently accused Israel of waging an “expanded, concerted campaign” to destroy the UN agency. The leader of UNRWA does have a cause for concern, as Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that UNRWA has “lost legitimacy and can no longer function as a UN body.” UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer stated that “The rot is systemic, and that’s why we’re holding a conference…to replace UNRWA.” And now Congressional Republicans are probing the Biden administration’s decision to restore US funding to UNRWA in 2021, following the Trump administration’s suspension of that funding in 2018.
Good riddance to UNRWA if it ends up folding under pressure; UNRWA and the UN are Hamas apologists at best, and facilitators at worst. For example, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator actually insisted that “Hamas is not a terrorist group for us,” but merely a “political movement.” And the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, in a rejoinder to the French president calling the October 7 attack “the largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century,” stated that “No, Mr. Macron. The victims of [the October 7 attack] were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.”
UNRWA Employees Provide Material Support to Hamas, PIJ
Israeli Defense Minister Galant has named 12 specific UNRWA employees who “actively participated” in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, and also stated that Israel has “significant indications based on intelligence” that implicates “over 30” additional UNRWA employees. Gallant stated that of UNRWA’s 13,000 staff in Gaza, “1,468 workers are known to be active in Hamas and PIJ, 185 UNRWA workers are active in the military branches of Hamas and 51 are active in the PIJ military branch.”
Additional to those numbers are the 30 UNRWA teachers known to have celebrated the October 7 attacks on a UNRWA Telegram group that had 3,000 members.
Hamas’ “Data Center” Found Underneath UNRWA Headquarters
Israel also found a Hamas “data center” under UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza, equipped with an electrical room, computer servers and rooms where Hamas operatives could work and sleep, and that there were power lines connecting UNRWA’s headquarters to this data center. And surprise, some of the equipment found was made in Iran and China. Interestingly, while the Hamas “data center” contained electronics, a server room in the above-ground UNRWA headquarters had most of its electronics missing, which appears to be indicative of “actions of someone who knew the army was coming and wanted to hide the evidence,” according to Col. Benny Aharon of Israel’s 401st Armored Brigade. After the head of UNRWA denied that UNRWA knew of this data center ahead of time, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) tweeted “Oh, you knew,” and stated that Israel had warned UN officials about the data center but those officials chose to ignore those warnings.
Additional Evidence of Strong UNRWA/Hamas Partnership
Additionally, UN Watch cited instances of UNRWA/Hamas synergy, including that Israel found:
- At the UNRWA headquarters above ground, weapons and “documents that indicated that the same offices were also used by Hamas”;
- UNRWA aid bags in Yahya Sinwar’s bunker;
- UNRWA concrete in Hamas’ tunnels that housed hostages;
- Missiles and rockets under UNRWA equipment;
- That Hamas stashed ammunition, explosives, and weapons in UNRWA bags, and that Hamas also had UN vests;
- That Hamas stored weapons in and fired weapons from a UNRWA school; and
- That Hamas’ “Ministry of Health” stole 24,000 gallons of fuel from UNRWA.
And to further emphasize the scope of how seriously UNRWA is compromised by Hamas, every single UNRWA “site, school, mosque, [and] kindergarten” that Israel has inspected had weapons, according to Israel’s commander of the 646th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade.
Calls to preserve UNRWA merely deflect away from the “systemic” “rot” found in the organization. Israel should make sure that UNRWA does not operate in any post-war Gaza, as the organization compromises the security of the Jewish state.
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