August 8, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

15 Killed in Gaza by Palestinian Rockets - Ariella Marsden (Jerusalem Post)
    Since Friday, Islamic Jihad fired 1,100 rockets at Israel, 200 of which landed within Gaza.
    Of the 990 rockets that made it into Israel, 380 were intercepted by the Iron Dome at a 95% success rate. The other 610 landed in the sea and open spaces.
    Apart from a few people who were lightly injured from debris on Saturday, no Israeli casualties were reported.
    The Palestinians reported 35 deaths out of which 26 were bystanders.
    Of the 26, 11 were killed in Israeli airstrikes, and 15 were killed by Islamic Jihad rockets that failed to clear Gaza.

    See also Palestinian Worker at Ashkelon Factory Hurt by Gaza Rocket - Meir Turgeman (Ynet News)
    A rocket launched from Gaza landed Sunday evening in a factory in Ashkelon, lightly wounding a Palestinian worker employed there.

    See also Misfired Islamic Jihad Rocket almost Strikes Palestinian News Crew in Gaza - Sharon Wrobel (Algemeiner)
    A rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Sunday misfired and landed inside Gaza, almost hitting a Palestinian news crew from the pro-Iranian Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen.
    Joe Truzman, a research analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tweeted video of the rocket, noting that it "can clearly be seen heading towards the crew before it strikes the ground inside Palestinian territory."

President Herzog Visits Sderot near Gaza following Ceasefire (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday visited the Israeli city of Sderot, located 4 km. from Gaza, and met with the mayors and council heads of the towns surrounding Sderot.
    He said, "I have come here in the name of all the people of Israel to say thank you to you and all the residents of the Gaza envelope and the city of Sderot. Without this area, there is no Israel. You are the entryway to Israel, and you are the wall that protects the country."

Assessing Palestinian Islamic Jihad's Military Capabilities after the August 2022 Conflict (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is the second-largest terrorist organization in Gaza after Hamas.
    Over the years, PIJ has strengthened its military capabilities with significant assistance from Iran, with an estimated arsenal of 6,000-8,000 rockets, the majority with a range of up to 40 km.
    PIJ also possesses the lethal Kornet anti-tank guided missile, which has a range up to 5.5 km.
    During the August conflict, the rockets fired exposed their poor quality and lack of accuracy; 20% fell inside Gaza.
    Many of the longer-range rockets deviated from their intended trajectory and fell into the sea.
    PIJ likely still possesses 5,500 short-range rockets and at least several long-range rockets that can reach central Israel.

BBC Omits Reason behind Israeli Airstrikes in Gaza - Hadar Sela (CAMERA-UK)
    On Aug. 6, the BBC News website included the headline: "Israel-Gaza: Emergency Services Respond after Airstrike Hits Building in Gaza," with footage of ambulances, people carrying stretchers and a hospital entrance.
    While BBC failed to explain why the building was targeted, the Washington Post reported:
    "At least two large buildings near the beach in Gaza City were demolished Saturday. An Israeli official said the buildings had housed command and control centers used by Islamic Jihad. The residents were warned and the buildings evacuated before the strikes occurred."
    The New York Times reported that the IDF targeted "two weapons storage facilities, which it said were located 'in the residences of terrorist operatives in the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip.'"
    Apparently BBC News website editors preferred a context-free version of the story.

Video: Palestinians Fire Automatic Weapons at West Bank Wedding Parties (MEMRI-TV)
    On July 8-9, 2022, the Gaza Now Facebook page shared footage from wedding parties in the West Bank where dozens of men danced with loaded weapons.
    Several fired their weapons in the air on automatic, and small children and young boys also handled and danced with loaded firearms.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Ceasefire in Effect following Three Days of Fighting in Gaza - Joe Truzman
    At 11:30 p.m. local time, an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire went into effect between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-led militant groups in Gaza, following three days of fighting where PIJ commanders were killed. While statements were published by PIJ claiming victory over Israel, it is difficult to see what operational successes were accomplished other than firing rockets at Israeli territory with minimal damage in the majority of areas targeted. (Long War Journal)
        See also Israel and Palestinian Militants Reach a Ceasefire - Patrick Kingsley
    The fighting revealed simmering tensions between Islamic Jihad, the militia that led this latest battle against Israel, and Hamas, the militia that runs Gaza, which opted to remain on the sidelines. The fighting has badly damaged Islamic Jihad, Gaza's second-largest militia. Two of its key leaders are now dead and many of its bases and weapons factories have been destroyed. A senior Israeli official said Israel had completed "a precise and effective operation that met all of its strategic objectives."
        Israeli analysts largely portrayed the episode as a victory and even a warning to Israel's other enemies in the region - particularly Hizbullah - of the fate that awaits them should they also enter into full-scale combat with Israel in the near future. Islamic Jihad was also embarrassed by videos that appeared to show its rockets malfunctioning and hitting civilian areas in Gaza.
        Morocco and the UAE expressed concern about the violence but avoided criticism of Israel. (New York Times)
  • Biden Says U.S. Proud to Back Life-Saving Iron Dome
    In the wake of the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza-based militants after three days of hostilities, President Biden said: "My support for Israel's security is long-standing and unwavering - including its right to defend itself against attacks. Over these recent days, Israel has defended its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the United States is proud of our support for Israel's Iron-Dome, which intercepted hundreds of rockets and saved countless lives."  (White House)
  • Negotiators Optimistic about Progress on Iran Nuclear Deal
    Top negotiators in renewed talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal indicated Sunday that they are optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement to impose limits on Tehran's uranium enrichment. Enrique Mora, the top EU negotiator, said he is "absolutely" optimistic about the talks' progress so far. "We are advancing, and I expect we will close the negotiations soon."  (AP-ABC News)
        See also Iran, U.S. Close In on Nuclear Deal Text but Hurdles Remain - Laurence Norman
    Negotiations between Iran and the U.S. on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal are close to completion, the EU's senior negotiator at the talks, Enrique Mora, said Sunday. However, Iran must still decide whether to set aside its demand that the nuclear deal can only be revived if a multiyear UN atomic agency probe into its nuclear program is closed. Western officials have said Iran needs to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and insisted they wouldn't intervene to close the probe or to set a fixed deadline for the agency's work. The negotiations have dragged on for 16 months. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Rockets Target Israel ahead of Ceasefire - Anna Ahronheim
    Just hours before the ceasefire on Sunday, at least 50 rockets were fired toward central and southern Israel, including Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport. Shortly before the ceasefire took effect, barrages of rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israeli communities near the border, as the IDF carried out airstrikes against targets in Gaza planned ahead of time for the end of the operation.
        Since the beginning of the operation, the IDF has targeted 140 Islamic Jihad figures, including senior and anti-tank missile operatives. The military also destroyed 11 rocket launch sites, six military sites and eight terror cells that were on their way to or coming back from launching rockets. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Did Not Agree to Release Islamic Jihad Prisoners in Ceasefire - Lahav Harkov
    "Israel did not agree to release any [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] prisoners" as part of a ceasefire, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said on Sunday. "The Egyptians asked, and we will allow a dialogue on the situation of the prisoners," meaning how they are faring from a humanitarian perspective. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jewish Organizations Worldwide Stand with Israel - Zvika Klein
    Jewish organizations from across the world have shown support for Israel and the IDF after hundreds of missiles were launched at Israeli civilian areas from Gaza.
        "The operation currently being carried out by Israel's military against Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a necessary measure to preserve civilian lives in the midst of conflict," the World Jewish Congress said. The Jewish Federations of North America wrote, "Our hearts are with the people of Israel as many families spent the night in bomb shelters while rockets continue to rain down from Gaza."
        Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council director Dr. Colin Rubenstein said, "The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group...is indiscriminately targeting innocent Israeli civilians with rocket barrages, very clearly a war crime, while hiding among the civilians of Gaza, also a war crime."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Loneliness of Islamic Jihad - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Yohanan Tzoreff
    On the third day of fighting in Gaza, Islamic Jihad still finds itself alone. The Palestinian public in Gaza does not feel part of this war and does not show solidarity. Hamas, in a manner far from predictable, does not extend a hand, and in effect makes it easier for Israel to deliver the many blows it deals the PIJ.
        The elimination of its senior commanders and the extensive destruction of its infrastructure are undoubtedly a severe blow, but Hamas not joining the fighting is perhaps the more painful blow inflicted on Islamic Jihad. Above all, Hamas has no interest in allowing Islamic Jihad to challenge its status as sovereign and define the agenda within Gaza.
        Israel has achieved the goals it set for itself, removed the threat of Islamic Jihad shooting, hit it hard, and wishes to end the operation. It is certainly not interested in Hamas joining the fighting. Hamas is not interested in this either and is working vigorously with the Egyptians and the Qataris to bring the episode to an end.
        The writer, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, served as Arab Adviser to the Civil Administration in Gaza and as head of the Palestinian-Arab Division in the Ministry of Intelligence and Strategy. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Psychological Warfare of Israel's Gaza Operation - Cdr. (ret.) Dr. Eyal Pinko
    The rocket attacks carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad are generally ineffective, with most intercepted or striking open areas. PIJ has also failed to register success on the internal, Palestinian front: it is criticized for starting this round and for being responsible for the damage caused by the IDF. Palestinians understand that IDF strikes are lethal, precise, intelligence-based and avoid harming uninvolved civilians.
        Islamic Jihad leaders are feeling the sword hanging over their heads, coupled with the sense that the IDF knows their secret hiding places and exact locations.
        The writer served in the Israeli Navy for 23 years and for 5 more years in the prime minister's office. (Israel Defense)
  • Gaza: The Usual Suspects Condemn Israel - Col. Richard Kemp
    A week ago U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the elimination of al-Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul. A few days later Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid ordered the elimination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander Tayseer al-Jabari in Gaza. The strike against Jabari and his attack team prevented the deaths of innocent civilians. These were two of a kind: mass killers whose sole purpose was to inflict pain, death and destruction on ordinary decent people to bring about their vision of Islamic conquest.
        Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the "Occupied Palestinian Territories," described Israel's actions as "flagrant aggression" in breach of international law. This is pure fiction. Israel has made it clear that the strikes were to prevent an imminent threat to the Israeli population. Protecting its people from violent external attack is not only permitted under international law, it is the duty of every government.
        The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK's national crisis management committee, COBRA. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Israel Cannot Simply Stop Fighting Terror - Editorial
    If Israel doesn't forcibly respond to the threats of one terrorist organization, the other organizations driven by the same desire to harm the Jewish state will be emboldened. And that includes Hizbullah in Lebanon. While Israel needs to maintain its policy of trying to minimize casualties of innocent people, it cannot simply stop fighting terror. The country cannot afford a situation in which the terrorist organizations literally call the shots.
        Israel was right to take the initiative and tackle the Islamic Jihad terror threat. Allowing terror cells to grow is a danger to the Jewish state and to the Palestinians themselves. The very name Islamic Jihad is a sign that this is a terrorist organization whose credo comprises death and destruction of the global jihad type. Israel doesn't only have the right to defend itself, it has the duty. The Free World must stand by Israel in its fight against terror, as it fights on the front lines for all. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran "Almost Certainly" to Blame for Escalation - Adi Koplewitz
    The current escalation between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza is the result of Iranian orders, says IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, former deputy commander of Israel's Gaza Division. "The military operation in Gaza began with an interception of a terror squad on its way to carry out an attack on Israel. This sort of attack...wouldn't just require approval from Tehran, but is most likely an Iranian initiative....PIJ is an absolute proxy of Iran. Tehran funds it and runs it."  (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran's Malign Hand behind the Scenes in Gaza - Herb Keinon
    During the fighting in Gaza, Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah was in Tehran. Iran supports Hamas but it controls Islamic Jihad. Iran's interest is to cause Israel as much hurt as possible.
        After three days, Israel can point to several significant achievements. First, it surprised Islamic Jihad on Friday with its pinpoint strike on the safe house in Gaza City of its northern command head Tayseer al-Jabari, as well as killing at the same time Abdullah Kadoum, head of the anti-tank guided-missile section. On Saturday, Khaled Mansour, the southern command chief, was killed.
        Israel also sent a message that it will continue to fight terrorism originating in the West Bank by going on the offensive, by taking the battle to the enemy, and not waiting until a terrorist attack "succeeds" before going after the terrorists. Islamic Jihad's attempts to establish new rules - whereby any IDF action in the West Bank would lead to an automatic Islamic Jihad response or the threat of one that could paralyze life in Israeli communities near Gaza - would not be tolerated.
        Islamic Jihad did not act as expected - issue some threats, maybe even fire some rockets toward Israel - because it was not in Iran's interest. Tehran has no interest in calming the situation. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel Surprised the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Fearing an imminent terrorist attack in early August, Israel declared four days of restrictions and a shutdown of the Israeli communities along the Gaza border. On August 5, 2022, Israel seized the initiative and struck a preemptive blow against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad centers and leaders in Gaza.
  • The Breaking Dawn operation aimed to thwart imminent Islamic Jihad terror attacks on Israeli targets using antitank missiles and sniper fire in response to the arrest of senior Islamic Jihad official Bassam al-Saadi in Jenin in the West Bank.
  • In recent days Islamic Jihad had sought to change the rules of the game and create a new linkage equation between the IDF's arrest of its operatives in the West Bank and continued quiet along the Gaza border.
  • The Islamic Jihad leadership sought to create a standoff whereby any harm to its operatives in the West Bank, their arrest, or the endangerment of the lives of security prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, would spark an escalation at the Gaza border.
  • The Israeli political echelon decided to launch the operation once it was clear that the efforts by Egypt and Hamas to restrain Islamic Jihad had failed. The terror group was at an advanced stage of preparations for attacks along the border.
  • Iran orchestrated everything that happened inside and along the Gaza borders. Ziad al-Nakhalah, the Islamic Jihad leader, visited Tehranís leaders and ran the campaign in coordination with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
  • Israel succeeded in surprising Islamic Jihad using remarkable intelligence and technological capabilities. Israel thwarted the attacks that Islamic Jihad was planning and killed the group's entire military leadership in Gaza. Rehabilitating the IDF's deterrence against Islamic Jihad is very important.

    The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

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