May 27, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Cairo Adopts New Policy with Hamas (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    U.S. President Joe Biden has asked Egypt to limit Hamas' role in Gaza and to replace it with the Palestinian Authority.
    Diplomatic sources told London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Egyptian media received official directives to stop hailing the Palestinian resistance and concentrate on Cairo's efforts to rebuild Gaza.
    Egyptian media was also asked to criticize Hamas' demand to be part of the reconstruction of Gaza and to be directly involved in the process of distributing aid.

Palestinian Family of 8 Was Killed by Palestinian Rocket, Not Israeli Airstrike (AP-Times of Israel)
    Israeli military officials say an explosion that killed eight members of a Palestinian family on the first day of the recent fighting in Gaza was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike.
    Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, says the rocket launched in Gaza fell inside Gaza and killed "almost an entire family....This wasn’t an Israeli attack."
    A senior military officer says the incident was investigated and Israel did not strike the Beit Hanoun area that night.

Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah May Have Covid - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli military believes Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah may have contracted the coronavirus, following a speech on Tuesday in which he was seen coughing and occasionally struggling for breath.

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The 2021 Gaza War - Summary (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    During the latest Hamas-Israel conflict, more than 4,360 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel, of which 3,573 penetrated Israeli airspace, 680 fell inside Gaza and 280 fell into the sea.
    50 senior Hamas and PIJ terrorist operatives were killed including brigade commanders, 20 lower-ranking commanders, and 200 terrorist operatives.
    Egypt has taken upon itself to lead the rebuilding of Gaza and coordinate donations and supplies.
    Reconstruction projects will be carried out by companies belonging to the Egyptian army, limiting the influence of Turkish companies and strengthening cooperation with the Gulf States.

The IDF's Spectacular Precision - James J. Marlow (JNS)
    The 2021 Gaza War may have been the most targeted and accurate precision-bombing campaign ever facilitated by any military, anywhere, in the history of conflict and war.
    In response to massive rocket fire, the IDF targeted more than 1,000 sites across Gaza with complex surgical strikes.
    Targets included terrorist command centers or bases for Hamas and Islamic Jihad commandos, multi-barrel rocket launchers, underground steel bunkers, and tunnels in the heart of Gaza's civilian districts.
    In retaliation for the bombardment of its cities, Israel could have killed thousands of Gazans.
    But because the IDF does so much to prevent the death of innocents, the number of civilian Palestinian casualties remained relatively low.

If You Cheer for Hamas, You Should Understand It Wants Israel Wiped from the Map - Paul Rubenstein (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
    "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." So goes the chant by anti-Israel demonstrators over the past 10 days.
    Let there be no doubt about what these words mean. They do not represent an appeal for a Palestinian homeland to be established as part of a two-state settlement.
    The slogan is an aspirational bid for Israel, which lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, to be wiped off the map of the world.
    Only this week, Hamas deputy political chief Mousa Abu Marzouk said his group's war against Israel would end with "their [the Jews] leaving Palestine."
    How has it come to be that supporting the destruction of Israel and the creation of a Jew-free zone within its current borders has become something acceptable to express in public?
    Unfortunately, for many critics of Israel, their rhetoric around the nation state is interchangeable with their attitude towards Jewish people in general.
    The writer is NSW chairman of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

Who Is Watching the Human Rights Watchers? - Gerald Steinberg (ABC-Australia)
    While human rights organizations raise several billions of dollars annually, their agendas are increasingly being questioned.
    Instead of focusing on horrific violations by dictatorships and terrorist regimes, these groups tend to devote major resources to investigating Western democracies.
    Accusations of "war crimes" by the U.S., UK, Australia, and Israel, based on reports of accidental civilian deaths from strikes aimed at top terrorists hiding in densely populated areas, are standard fare.
    The NGO employees who write these reports have no military experience and most often rely on "eyewitness testimonies" that cannot be verified.
    Moreover, lawyers and judges who do not share the ideological views of these groups reach very different conclusions.
    The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and heads the Institute for NGO Research in Jerusalem.

Book Excerpt - X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II - Leah Garrett (Military Times)
    In 1942, Winston Churchill and his chief of staff set up a new commando unit made up of Jewish refugees who had escaped to Britain. Many had lost their families.
    Trained in counterintelligence and advanced combat, this top secret unit became known as X Troop. Some simply call them a suicide squad.

Israeli Stroke Treatment Company Rapid Medical Raises $50 Million (Globes)
    Israeli neurovascular device developer Rapid Medical announced a $50 million financing round on Tuesday.
    The company's minimally invasive stroke products include the FDA-approved Tigertriever, a new class of clot retriever to better remove blood clots and restore blood flow to the brain following a blockage.
    Tigertriever 13 is the only clot retriever in the world indicated for the removal of clots from more distant areas in the brain.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Secretary of State Blinken: Anti-Semitism Is on the Rise and We're Determined to Deal with It
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israel's Channel 12 on Tuesday: "Anti-Semitism's been on the rise in the United States and around the world for the last several years. And we know this from history. It's the canary in the coal mine because it's almost inevitable that when you see anti-Semitism erupt and emerge, hatred directed at other groups almost is sure to follow. And we're seeing that in the United States now with hatred directed, for example, at Asian Americans."
        "Things are happening that we have to address. Because if it's allowed to fester, if it's allowed to grow, if it's allowed to go even further with impunity, you wind up having a conflagration that affects a lot of people. So we're taking this very, very seriously....We're determined to deal with that and put it to an end."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Gaza Reconstruction Plan Faces Major Roadblocks - Barak Ravid
    The Biden administration wants to push ahead with humanitarian aid and rebuilding in Gaza. President Biden says he wants to coordinate those efforts with the Palestinian Authority, which has no influence in Gaza, and exclude Hamas, which controls the territory. Moreover, the international community may be reluctant to invest in an area that has been repeatedly bombed.
        Israeli officials told Secretary of State Blinken that while they are ready to help in getting immediate humanitarian assistance into Gaza including water, food, and medical supplies, a monitoring system is needed that's much stronger than previous ones that allowed Hamas to repurpose building materials for its own purposes. Moreover, Israeli officials are conditioning any meaningful reconstruction of Gaza on progress toward the recovery of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers and the release of Israeli citizens held by Hamas in Gaza. (Axios)
  • World Health Organization Takes Time Out from Covid Pandemic to Condemn Israel
    The UN's World Health Organization held a session Wednesday to condemn Israel for allegedly violating the health rights of Palestinians. The session concluded with a vote of 82 to 14, with 40 abstentions, to adopt a Palestinian resolution to prepare another report on health conditions in the Palestinian territories, including eastern Jerusalem, and in the Golan Heights. Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, condemned the "cynical politicization of the world's top health agency at the expense of focusing on the Covid-19 pandemic."
        "Out of 34 items on the current world health assembly's agenda, only one, Item 25 targeting Israel, focused on a specific country. There was no agenda item or resolution on...Syria, where hospitals and other medical infrastructure are repeatedly and deliberately bombed by Syrian and Russian forces; not on war-torn Yemen, where 18 million are in dire need of health assistance; and not on Venezuela, where the health system is in a state of collapse and 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance."
        "Despite the fact that the Palestinians have their own health system, and under the Oslo II Peace Accord it is the Palestinian Authority which is responsible for vaccinating their population, Israel has vaccinated over 100,000 Palestinian workers since March as well as donating thousands of vaccine doses for Palestinian medical workers."
        "Anyone who has ever walked into an Israeli hospital or clinic knows that they provide world-class health care to thousands of Palestinian Arabs as well as to Syrians fleeing Assad."  (UN Watch)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to Blinken: We Oppose Consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem - Lahav Harkov
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel opposes the reopening of a U.S. consulate for Palestinians in Israel, hours before the U.S. went public with its plan to do so in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said Israel would prefer that a consulate to another entity - the Palestinian Authority - not be on Israeli sovereign territory.
        The Trump administration merged the U.S. consulate for Palestinians into the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in March 2019. The move was mostly symbolic, as most consulate workers continued doing the work they did before, but under the title of the "Palestinian Affairs Unit."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also U.S. Should Not Reopen the Jerusalem Consulate - Amb. David Friedman (The Hill)
  • Lessons from the 2021 Gaza War for Iran and Hizbullah - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, and Jerusalem Center-Iran Desk
    It is likely that Iran and Hizbullah will draw a number of lessons from the 2021 Gaza War as they look toward the next confrontation with Israel:
    1. In their view, rocket weaponry is a "tiebreaker," targeting Israel's home front as a major weak point. Thus, they will seek to strengthen the rocket forces and accelerate the deployment of precision missiles.
    2. Explore ways to disrupt Israel's missile defense systems.
    3. Prepare for the occupation of Israeli territory in the Galilee, including the use of offensive invasion tunnels. In this context, it was recently reported that Hizbullah had established a network of hundreds of kilometers of tunnels, including command and control complexes, from Beirut to southern Lebanon, aimed at attacking IDF forces in the event of an IDF ground maneuver on Lebanese territory.
    4. Damage strategic Israeli facilities and military infrastructure.
    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The 2021 Gaza War

  • A Military Assessment of the Israel-Hamas Conflict - Grant Rumley and Neri Zilber
    In the 11-day conflict, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) employed their forces in novel ways, with mixed results. They fired rockets at an unprecedented pace and range, often launching dozens at a time at the same target from different locations in Gaza in an attempt to saturate Israel's Iron Dome defense system. In all, 4,300 rockets were launched, compared to 650 rockets fired over 22 days in 2008-2009, 1,500 over 8 days in 2012, and 4,500 over 50 days in 2014. Yet improvements to Iron Dome largely negated the heavier barrages, as the system maintained a 90% interception rate.
        Efforts to target strategic infrastructure - offshore natural gas platforms, the Dimona nuclear facility, and airports - failed as well. The sole exception was an early strike that hit a gas storage tank near Ashkelon. Various drones were shot down. Unmanned bomb-laden submarines were destroyed prior to launch.
        Israel brought mass firepower to bear through the coordination of joint forces, and did so faster and with more pinpoint intelligence than previously seen. The IDF showed an immediate willingness to target senior militant commanders in their homes and installations, including brigade commanders and rocket specialists.
        Grant Rumley is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute, where Neri Zilber is an adjunct fellow. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Gaza Reconstruction? Welcome to La-La Land - David Rosenberg
    Calls for beginning reconstruction efforts in Gaza began just hours after Hamas' war with Israel came to an end last week. But if the history after Israel's last big conflict with Hamas in 2014 is any guide, most of the aid pledges being made now will never materialize. Or, it will be misspent. Many of the homes destroyed in the previous war have yet to be rebuilt, although there seemed to be resources to build shopping malls, elaborate mosques and the "metro" network of tunnels.
        Whatever reconstruction occurs now will probably be turned into rubble again in a few years because Israel and Hamas are locked into a pattern of recurrent wars. Gaza is a bad investment. Moreover, talk of any kind of serious Gaza reconstruction that could form the basis for a functioning economy is a joke. Gaza is far too small to ever function as a stand-alone economy.
        If it hasn't grown as fat, lazy and self-serving as the Palestinian Authority, Hamas isn't in contention for any good-government awards. Just as importantly, armed struggle is much, much higher up than economic development on its to-do list. The only local industry Hamas has encouraged is rocket-building. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rushing to Rebuild Gaza Will Reward Hamas - Jonathan S. Tobin
    President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken think they can aid the people of Gaza without helping or even rewarding Hamas. They cannot. As the international community learned after it devoted billions of dollars to reconstruct Gaza after the 2014 war, it was virtually impossible to ensure that the money helped ordinary Palestinians rather than their Hamas tyrants. There has never been an example in history of cash pouring into a totalitarian regime that could be kept out of the clutches of the rulers.
        Most of the building material that was let into Gaza after 2014 went into rebuilding the terrorist group's military infrastructure. There is no reason to believe the next round of rebuilding will go any differently.
        Every step towards normalizing Hamas, rather than isolating and defeating it, is a signal to a Palestinian people who have been sold such fantasies for the last 100 years that their long war to defeat Zionism is not yet lost. Rebuilding Gaza will enable Hamas to assert that there were no long-term consequences for their actions. It will also make peace even more impossible by indicating to the Palestinians that they don't have to surrender to reality and accept Israel's permanence and legitimacy.
        It's hard to resist arguments that appeal to our sympathy for those who are caught in the crossfire created by Hamas terrorism. Nevertheless, the best thing Biden can do to actually advance the cause of peace is to not spend a cent on rebuilding the terrorist state in Gaza. (JNS)
  • Israel vs. Hamas: A "Just War" Analysis - Paul D. Miller
    Pro-Palestinian protesters and mobs unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic violence against American Jews in recent days, apparently under the theory that American Jews are responsible for Israel's actions and violent reprisal is justified. That amounts to a strange understanding of "just war" theory.
        Hamas is a terrorist organization that deliberately murders civilians and says it wants to destroy Israel. On the other side, Israel has a right to defend itself, full stop. Israel was fighting to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilian populations.
        As a scholar who recently wrote a book on just war theory, I have carefully weighed the evidence and believe Hamas to be unjust, appallingly wrong, and morally abhorrent. Hamas' American apologists are making excuses for terrorism.
        Hamas is in the wrong no matter what you think of the Palestinians' cause. If you sympathize with the Palestinians, you should hate Hamas. Hamas is the greatest enemy of the Palestinians.
        In 2021, Israel does not occupy the West Bank or Gaza, having withdrawn from those territories in 1995 and 2005, respectively. It recognized the Palestinian Authority as the governing authority of Palestinian territories and engaged in repeated negotiations to end the Israel-Palestine dispute. Israel did not initiate the recent round of violence. Under these conditions, the Palestinians are not fighting for self-defense, and political violence is not remotely a last resort for their cause.
        The writer is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. (Providence-Institute on Religion and Democracy)

  • Other Issues

  • The Human Rights of Israeli Civilians Are Beyond the Scope of the UN Human Rights Council - Dr. Ron Malka
    On Thursday in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will hold a Special Session to pass another anti-Israel decision. It will be the 9th such session devoted to Israel, out of a total of 30 special sessions held since 2006. Given the abhorrent situations and insurmountable challenges faced by so many around the world, is it even remotely rational to devote 30% of special sessions to Israel?
        Moreover, the UNHRC will either ignore or obscure the more than 4,000 violations of international humanitarian law committed by Hamas since 10 May. That is the number of indiscriminate rockets which terrorist organizations in Gaza launched at civilians living in Israeli towns and cities. Apparently, the human rights of Israeli civilians are beyond the scope of the UNHRC.
        Hamas has brought nothing but sorrow and suffering to the Palestinians living under its rule. This was demonstrated during the recent conflict when Israel twice facilitated the passage to Gaza of convoys of trucks loaded with fuel and humanitarian aid. Both times, the convoys were targeted by mortars fired from Gaza. Strengthening a dangerous terrorist organization and its extremist followers throughout the Middle East will deal another blow to those seeking peace and stability.
        The writer is Ambassador of Israel to India. (The Print-India)
  • The Big Lie: There Is No Ethnic Cleansing Going On in Gaza or the West Bank - Stephen Smith
    Critics claim that Israel "is practicing ethnic cleansing." There is only one problem: There is no ethnic cleansing going on in Gaza or the West Bank. A UN Commission of Experts defined ethnic cleansing as "a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas." The Israelis are not trying to change the make-up of the population by forcing Palestinians to move.
        If Israel wanted to ethnically cleanse Gaza, it has the military wherewithal to do so quickly and effectively. The reason that hasn't happened is because Israel has no intent to commit ethnic cleansing. In international law, intent matters.
        Indeed, Hamas is arguably the belligerent engaged in ethnic cleansing. Lobbing 4,000 missiles into Israel, indiscriminately firing them at both civilian and military targets, displays an intent to kill civilians. Israel is seeking security for its people, not the elimination of another people. That is not ethnic cleansing, and implying otherwise is not just libelous but dangerous.
        The writer is executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • How Influencers Have Enabled Anti-Semitism - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    Since the most recent conflict between Israel and Gaza, acts of anti-Semitism have spiked in many corners of the Western world. Anti-Semitism has been haunting our societies for years, but today it is no longer confined to the fringes of society.
        Social media has normalized anti-Semitic tropes and attacks. The Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism found 17,000 tweets which used variations of the phrase "Hitler was right" in just one week. Likewise, anti-Semitism has ferociously spread across Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, in large part due to a group of popular "influencers" who use their platforms to highlight the Palestinians' plight.
        Take supermodel Bella Hadid, who has almost four times as many Instagram followers as there are Jews in the entire world. She joined a pro-Palestinian protest, chanting: "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" - an anti-Semitic slogan coined by the Palestine Liberation Organization to call for the elimination of Israel.
        Yet I do not believe she understood she was calling for the elimination of Israel, or the expulsion or genocide of the Jewish people. I believe the majority of those posting infographics and memes about Israel-Palestine are simply under-educated and ill-informed.
        The writer is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (UnHerd)
  • The Intelligentsia's Craven Silence in the Face of Anti-Semitism Is Unforgivable - Steven A. Cook
    There have been almost 200 anti-Semitic attacks in the last two weeks as Jews have been watching our safety in this country go up in smoke. Attacking Jews as a sign of solidarity with Palestinians is just anti-Semitism with a new excuse. Sometimes my daughter wears a Star of David necklace. Should I tell her not to wear it?
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Newsweek)

  • Weekend Features

  • Pioneering Biblical Archaeologist Eilat Mazar Dies at 64 - Amanda Borschel-Dan
    Leading biblical archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, 64, died on Tuesday. Mazar was a field archaeologist and scholar at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology in Jerusalem and is known for her discovery of "King David's palace" in the City of David, where she led excavations at several sites. Her finds include some of the earliest known artifacts, dating back to the 12th and 11th centuries BCE.
        Mazar was the scion of an Israeli archaeological dynasty, and during her childhood she accompanied her grandfather, Prof. Benjamin Mazar, in his excavations of ancient Jerusalem. (Times of Israel)
        See also The Destruction of the Temple Mount Antiquities - Dr. Eilat Mazar
    Beginning in 1999, the Muslim Waqf in Jerusalem began operating heavy machinery and trucks that removed 9,000 tons of antiquities-laden earth from the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, bulldozing through ancient structures without any archeological supervision. To call attention to the massive destruction of the heritage of the Jewish people, Dr. Eilat Mazar asked the Jerusalem Center in 2002 to publish this report.
        As she wrote, "History will not forgive us if we do not stop, even belatedly, the crimes that have occurred on the Temple Mount, whose goal is to wipe out every vestige and testimony to the existence of Jewish history and archeology at the site."  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • As Pogroms Targeted Jews in Aleppo, Syria, My Family Sought to Escape - Prof. Ofra Basul Bengio
    The first time we attempted to escape Aleppo was shortly after the UN vote on the partition of Palestine in November 1947, when we witnessed the burning of our businesses, schools and synagogues. Everyone in the family put on Arab clothes and our parents assigned each of us an Arab name, like Fatma or Mohammed. Immediately after we got on the train to Lebanon, the conductor announced that if there were Jews among the passengers they had to disembark immediately or face severe punishment. We had no choice and were forced to get off.
        As early as 1944 the Syrian government had prohibited Jews from leaving the country, and had ordered the death penalty or lengthy imprisonment for anyone caught in the act. My father was a teacher in an Arab school and his students had great respect for him. One of his students become the governor of the city of Aleppo. In 1954, the governor helped us get valid Syrian passports. In return, my father had to agree to forgo his pension, as well as our house and all it contained. This may have been the only case in which Syrian passports were given to Jews, and our destination was cited as Turkey, not Israel, though the governor was very likely aware of our intentions.
        In Turkey we were met by Mossad agents who took our passports in order to forge others, so as to get additional Jewish families out of Syria, and we reached Israel two months later.
        The writer is a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Ha'aretz)

  • Mahmoud Abbas' claim to be the real leader of the Palestinian people has never been weaker. Otherwise, he would not have vetoed the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 22. Mahmoud Abbas cannot lead Palestinians anywhere and cannot defeat Hamas.
  • Israel and Americans who search for peace and stability face the problem of a profound breakdown of Palestinian politics. No peace negotiations can possibly succeed until Israel has a partner who can sign a peace agreement and enforce it.
  • There can be no "peace negotiations" with Hamas, which is dedicated to eliminating the State of Israel through violence. But the alternative to Hamas is the discredited and increasingly unpopular Fatah.
  • The coming outpouring of funds to rebuild damaged sites in Gaza presents an important opportunity. Donors should support projects that directly help the populace, without the political elites in the West Bank or Gaza skimming the cream or Hamas diverting supplies.
  • Donors must use their funds to support people and NGOs that show some independence from Hamas. Otherwise, they will be helping rebuild Hamas rather than Gaza. It should be clear that empowering political elites who damaged the chances for peace has not worked and will not work.
  • The two-state solution is further away than ever today. The recent days of war make the idea of removing the IDF from the West Bank look like madness to most Israelis. If Israel leaves, who exactly will prevent Hamas from taking over, seizing control of the West Bank as it did in Gaza in 2006, and as Hizbullah did in south Lebanon? Until that question can be answered, the two-state solution is a slogan rather than a serious destination.

    The writer is Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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