Rich Sokol shares the update from Israel

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER

Rich Sokol is a member of the South Metro Fire District Board of Directors and a former chair of the Arapahoe County Republican Party. But anyone who knows him knows that he is most passionate about the State of Israel. He has gone there many times, especially since the October 7, 2023 brutal surprise attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians as they went about their daily lives, resulting in 1,200 deaths, many in a manner indescribably barbaric, and the kidnapping of about 220 hostages, including women and children.

Rich Sokol

Wherever he goes, Rich greets his audience with, “Shalom,” the Hebrew word for hello, goodbye, and peace. Then he shares what is happening in the homeland of the Jewish people from his personal knowledge of facts on the ground.

On June 5, Rich spoke to the 100 people who came to the Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club’s monthly meeting. 

He told them, “As of today, Israel, which is one-twelfth the size of Colorado, has mostly conquered Gaza, which is only 140 square miles. Having started from the north end of Gaza, Israel now has Hamas cornered in the very southern tip of Gaza, which people often forget, borders Egypt. People scream about Israel turning Gaza into a prison but no one says a word about Egypt, of course, because Jews don’t live in Egypt. They only live in Israel.”

He continued, “Right now, the last four Hamas battalions are stationed in Rafah. The United States is doing everything it can possibly do to keep Israel from going into Rafah. In my opinion, Hamas has to be wiped out, period.” 

Explaining how the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) work, Rich said, “Israel has broadcast to all the Palestinians living in Rafah—and I should say, in all fairness, a lot of Palestinians living in the north moved into Rafah to take shelter as Israel started in the north and moved their way down—Israel has now created a safe zone for them. And, much to the U.S.’s surprise, one million civilians have moved out of Rafah, into the safe zone and out of harm’s way. That safe zone was set up solely by Israel. I don’t remember another military that broadcast, in advance, that it was going to attack, and set up safe zones for civilians. On the other hand, Hamas (on October 7) came into Israel and attacked civilians. There was no warning. They brutalized. They raped. They murdered. It was the most horrible massacre you could imagine.”

He went on, “Right now, Israel has circled Rafah, where the remaining battalions are, but, for the last four months, the U.S. has been putting incredible pressure on Israel not to go into Rafah and finish the job.”

President Biden wants a two-state solution, but that is really about politics, according to Rich. The two states he has in mind are Michigan and Minnesota, which are both home to many Arabs whose vote he hopes to get in November.

“Let’s not forget that Hamas is still holding many hostages,” Rich reminded people. “Of the about-220 hostages taken, Israel knows for a fact now that 41 of them are dead. We’re down to about 75 hostages (after four were rescued by the IDF on June 7) that we don’t know if they are alive or dead. Among those 75 are five American citizens and they are holding three American citizens’ bodies hostage because they know that Israel will pay for the dead bodies, not just the live bodies. So, Hamas continues to hold the dead bodies.”

Rich pointed out that President Biden “going public with his peace proposal last week to try to put pressure on everyone to accept it, was highly unusual.” 

Under that proposal, Hamas would return 30+ alive and dead hostages, Israel would release many times that number of Palestinian prisoners, and, “Israel would pull out of any populated area.” In the second stage of the plan, “Israel will leave Gaza and there will be a permanent cease fire,” Rich said. 

The plan is ambiguous, he explained, because, “It says that Hamas will no longer be in charge, but there’s nothing in the peace plan that says how Hamas will be eliminated. Israel has basically accepted the plan and we’re waiting to hear from Hamas,” adding that he hoped Hamas would say no because, “If Hamas lives, they’ll just regroup and there will be another war with more hostages in the future.”

It is important to remember, Rich said, “Hamas is our common enemy. They don’t just want to wipe out the Jews in Israel. They have no love for the United States. Their goal is Islam everywhere.”

Rich closed by cautioning everyone to keep their eyes on northern Israel, which borders Lebanon, because Hezbollah began attacking Israel there on October 8th, and, “The pace of those border attacks has picked up dramatically. They used to come just within a mile or two of the border. Now Hezbollah missiles are reaching five to ten miles into Israel. A large swath of northern Israel was on fire yesterday from those bombs. There are still 80,000 Israelis who have not been able to return to their homes near the Lebanese border and there’s no sign that they are going to return anytime soon. There is a big fear that Israel is about to go to war with Hezbollah, which is directly funded by and gets their weapons from Iran. Those weapons are much more powerful than what Hamas has. If this happens, it will be a real war with lots of killing. My gut is that it’s going to happen.”